By Chris Nashawaty
Updated October 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

If Geraldo was around in the 1890s, he would’ve loved Roland Molineux, a young dandy in Manhattan’s Gilded Age high society. The syphilitic son of a Civil War hero saw his honor challenged by a rival for his two-timing fiancée and poisoned the poor cad. When he got away with it, he moved on to a member of his upper-crust social club who’d slighted him. Schechter peppers his account of one of America’s earliest media circuses with peacock characters and deliciously tawdry details — sometimes too much detail (the murder case drags a bit). But for scandal sweet tooths, this one’s a beaut. A-