Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kathryn Kelly (wife of Machine Gun Kelly) {+ Giveaway}

It’s my pleasure today to be participating in the iReadBook Tour for author Barbara Casey’s KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly.

As part of the tour the author has graciously answered some questions, I’ll share my thoughts on the book and there’s a tour-wide giveaway. I was fascinated by the topic of this book and to learn that the author is not only a Georgia author, but now lives in the county where I was born and raised.

For those of you who are lovers of true crime biographies, KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.  Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn, until now.

Book Title:  KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind "Machine Gun" Kelly by Barbara Casey
Category:  Adult non-fiction, 196 pages
Genre:  Biography / true crime
Publisher:  Strategic Media Books
Release date:  February 2016
Content Rating:  PG-13 (There are some expletives and descriptions of crimes, although nothing gory or too graphic)

Here’s a description of the book …..

        KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is a biography of the woman who made a career of crime. With a lust for danger, she masterminded the crimes that took her and her husband, and others who included her own mother and stepfather, on a spree across Minnesota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Texas. Starting with smaller crimes that included bootlegging, smuggling liquor onto an Oklahoma Indian reservation, and other petty crimes, she encouraged her husband, George Barnes aka George Kelly, toward a life of more serious criminal activity that eventually escalated into bank robberies, kidnapping and extortion.
        Many believe that it was Kathryn, after giving him a machine gun, who developed George's feared persona and the name of Machine Gun Kelly. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was even convinced that the two were somehow connected in the Lindbergh kidnapping. Kathryn and Machine Gun Kelly were eventually captured after kidnapping Charles Urschel, a wealthy Oklahoma City oilman, and collecting a $200,000 ransom the largest ransom ever paid at that time.
        Eventually, the two were captured in Memphis, where Kelly had grown up as a boy. During their trial in Oklahoma City, movie cameras were allowed into the courtroom for the first time as curious spectators across the nation watched. Kathryn, while claiming to be an innocent victim in a bad marriage, remained unrepentant, smiling and primping for the cameras, and writing threatening letters to the judge and attorneys assigned to the case as well as her victims.
        Convicted in 1933, Kathryn served twenty-five years of her life sentence at FPC Alderson, West Virginia, when in 1958 she was finally released into obscurity. Although much has been written about Machine Gun Kelly, there is very little known about Kathryn.
        Through narrative, FBI files, rare quotes from George Kelly's son and other relatives and associates, extensive research, and several photographs, KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly is the first book ever written about a woman who chose to follow a life of crime during the Prohibition era.

The book is available at the following sites: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Please join me now in giving a warm welcome to Barbara Casey as she talks about this fascinating book. Welcome, Barbara.

How did you do research for your book?


Gathering information on Kathryn Kelly was challenging since no other books have been written about her. She is mentioned incidentally in all of the material that has been written about her husband, “Machine Gun” George Kelly, which gave me some perspective. I was also able to locate newspapers that covered the story of their crimes, I interviewed people who were familiar with her and her family, and I was given permission to access the FBI Vault that had a vast amount of information concerning the “trial of the century” where Kathryn and her husband were found guilty for kidnapping Charles Urschel and sentenced to life in prison. Of course, back then, there were no computers, so many of the documents were hand-written with notes from J. Edgar Hoover. I also discovered Kathryn’s autobiography that she wrote while in prison. It was a fascinating glimpse into her innermost thoughts and what motivated her.

What made you write a book about true crime, and specifically about Kathryn Kelly?


I was doing some research for another project I am working on and kept stumbling onto references to Kathryn. As I started digging, I became fascinated about this woman, born during the Prohibition Era and Depression, who was so determined to “have it all” no matter how she accomplished it. She was the driving force behind her husband’s illegal escapades – she actually gave him his first machine gun – and loved living a life of danger and excitement. Today she would be considered a “marketer” for the way she promoted her husband.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?


Most of my books are novels written for adults. In this case, however, Kathryn was my inspiration, and my publisher encouraged me to write about her. There is so much mystery about her story. For one thing, she and her husband received a ransom of $200,000 – the largest ransom ever paid. Only part of that money was ever recovered, so about $45,000 is still buried somewhere. There were things about the trial itself that were unusual, and only years later was the truth revealed. There is also a wonderful story about her only child – a daughter – that I uncovered in the FBI files. I have written about all of it in my book.

There are many books out there about the Mob Era. What makes yours different?


This is the only book written about Kathryn Kelly. She was certainly a contender with the other mobsters during that period, and was able to hold her own. She was attractive and able to use that to her advantage.

Do you have another profession besides writing?


I am president and owner of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Japan, and Canada. I am also a partner with Strategic Media Books, an independent publisher that focuses on quality nonfiction. I have a passion for writing, however, and always have a project in mind to work on. Right now, I am under contract for two more books: One will be another nonfiction; the other is the third book in a mystery series I am writing for young adults.

Barbara, thanks for joining us and sharing this insight into how your book came about. Kathryn is definitely an interesting lady.


Author Barbara Casey
Barbara Casey is a partner in Strategic Media Books, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. She is also a manuscript consultant and the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award. Her novel, The House of Kane, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and The Gospel According to Prissy, also a contemporary adult novel received several awards including the prestigious IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. Her most recent young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, received the Independent Publishers Living Now Award and was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of Best Books.

Barbara makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.

For more on Barbara and her writing, visit her website.

My thoughts on KATHRYN KELLY: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly …

The Prohibition era is filled with gangsters and their exploits, but little is known about most of the women in their lives. Author Barbara Casey changes that for George “Machine Gun” Kelly by telling the story of his last wife, Kathryn (Cleo Lera Mae Brooks) Kelly.

The story tells of Kathryn’s marriages and daughter before she and George Kelly got together. From there it follows her travels and activities with Kelly until their capture and conviction. It also describes her incarceration and a bit about her life after prison.

The author shares the various accounts of Kathryn’s actions during the numerous crimes, as well as her persona during the trial. The author takes readers on the road with the couple through her detailed descriptions. Readers learn Kathryn gave Kelly his first machine gun and built him up to be the notorious gangster people came to fear.

Easy to follow, the story is well balanced with an epilogue and notes of interest to round out all those involved. KATHRYN KELLY is a must read for history buffs and fans of true crime.

Kathryn Kelly: The Moll Behind “Machine Gun” Kelly by Barbara Casey, Gangland Mysteries, Strategic Media Books, @2016, ISBN: 978-1939521491, Paperback, 196 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author as part of her blog tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Tour Schedule:

You can learn more about this tantalizing story and author by visiting any or all of the following blogs participating in Barbara’stour:

May 2 - - review / guest post / giveaway
May 2 -   Library of Clean Reads - book spotlight / author interview/ giveaway
May 4 -   Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
May 5 -   Tragically Dull Adventures of An Almost Librarian - review / giveaway
May 5 -   Life as Leels - review
May 6 -   Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview
May 6 -   Book and Ink - review / giveaway
May 9 -   Thoughts on This 'n That - review / giveaway
May 9 -   Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review
May 10 - JBronder Book Reviews - review / guest post
May 11 - She Treads Softly - review
May 11 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
May 12 - Seasons of Opportunities - review / giveaway
May 12 - Mystery Suspense Reviews - book spotlight / guest post
May 13 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
May 13 - Deal Sharing Aunt – review


This is a tour-wide giveaway and participants can win one (1) of five (5) print / one (1) of five (5) eBooks of KATHRYN KELLY (international). One winner will also receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Barbara’s visit. Did you know very much about Kathryn Kelly before this post?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for hosting me and for your warm welcome and review. I am so glad you found Kathryn interesting. I wish you and your bloggers all my best.


  2. Congratulations Barbara.
    This sounds fascinating. A rare look at a very different woman's 'career'.

    1. Thank you. Yes, isn't it interesting that while everyone else did whatever they could to survive the Great Depression, Kathryn chose to do whatever she could to "have it all" no matter what it took. And she enjoyed the danger and drama of it all. Quite a "career" it turned out to be.

  3. I want to win because it sounds like a really interesting read!

  4. An agent and an author - fun combination.
    Sounds like Katheryn was the driving force behind her husband. I wonder if she remembered where the money was buried when she was released?

    1. A fun combination, and a busy one.
      Kathryn was definitely the driving force, and she was directly involved in hiding the money. I am sure she remembered where it was, but by the time she was released from prison, she wanted nothing to do with it. There is still money that was never found, and it is believed to be buried around the Paradise farm where her mother and stepfather lived. Interested?

  5. Since there are no other books based on Katheryn, that means anyone looking for information is going to buy YOUR book. That's a wonderful thing!

    1. Let's hope! No, seriously, thank goodness for the FBI files and the fact that Director Hoover had Kathryn in his cross hairs. He kept excellent records - hand written, of course. And there are some excellent books on that period in our nation's history.

  6. Oh, what a fascinating topic!! It's always those other people in someone's life who have such an influence. Even the research sounds interesting. Thanks, both.

    1. Thank you, Margot. I really did enjoy the research. Each time I uncovered something--even the smallest thing--it just made my day because I knew that very few people knew about it.

  7. I would love to win this book in ebook form (kindle). Thanks!!

  8. I'd love to write a true crime book. How exciting!

  9. Barbara, I hope you enjoy great success with this. Two of my favorite genres, true crime and biography. I look forward to reading it.

    Mason, thanks for hosting her and for your years of commitment to encouraging writers. Thanks for the encouraging comment you left on my latest blog post I left a reply for you there.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann. I appreciate your kind words. My best to you.

  10. Always wondered about the gangsters wife or wives how they lived and it they knew or not. WOuld be great to hear one side of a wife story.

  11. Looking at the woman's picture, I would not guess she was a criminal. I wonder if she was truly satisfied with her chosen "career." This sounds like a fascinating read.

    1. I think she was one of those thrill-seeking people who thrived on danger. She only thought of herself, and the crimes she committed were to finance the expensive lifestyle she wanted. The one exception that seemed to completely opposed to her other character traits was the love and devotion she had for her mother. Kathryn really was a complex person.

  12. the only sad thing is that these days it seems both crime books and films seem to amaze people and make them like the criminals instead of appalling them :(

    1. We live in strange times. I am working on the first draft of my next true crime book, and what you describe is so evident. The woman I am writing about (I can't tell you who it is because of contractual obligations) committed terrible crimes, yet she has a huge support base and her fans spread out across the world.

      In Kathryn's case, everyone was so poor during that time. When people read or heard about Kathryn and her escapades, it gave them something to talk about; it put some excitement into their otherwise dreary lives.

  13. I want to win this book because I'm sure I will get a little insiders view of what it's like to be a mob gangsters wife

  14. I would love to win this book because it sounds like something I would really enjoy reading.

  15. I would love to win this book because I really enjoy true crime and the interview with the author was fascinating!

  16. I want to win because I love true crime books


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.