Simon Read’s first book proves the adage “Truth is stranger than fiction.” The Walnut Creek author’s On the House: The Bizarre Killing of Michael Malloy, tells the tale of a group of real-life Depression-era criminals who plotted to kill a man and collect on his life insurance policy.
First they attempted to help Malloy drink himself to death. When that didn’t work, the criminals fed him poisoned oysters. Malloy, however, turned out to be nearly impossible to kill. “Malloy survived so many attempts on his life,” says Read, “he became a symbol for Depression-era resilience, like Seabiscuit.”
Read stumbled on Malloy’s story during his final year at Cal State Northridge while perusing a 1933 issue of the New York Times. He wrote On the House between shifts as a reporter at Pleasanton’s Tri-Valley Herald, flying to New York to do research in the basement of the Bronx County Courthouse.