While I am a fan of true crime, much of Helen Brach's story revolves around the Chicago horse business, and honestly, I'd never really had a deep interest in horse racing and all the things that come along with it. Despite the fact that many of the players in Mrs. Brach's life, herself included, were horse people in one way or another, I still found the events surrounding her mysterious disappearance compelling.
Helen Brach was a very wealthy widow and she found herself in the company of a man by the name of Richard Bailey. Bailey was a good bit younger than Brach, handsome and charming and a gigolo by trade, using horses to bilk unsuspecting widows out of their money under the guise that they were thoroughbreds, etc. However, he found Helen Brach's company enjoyable and rather than sell her one overpriced horse, he realized there was more money to be made in sticking with her for a while. Unfortunately, Bailey was mixed up with another con man named Joe Plemmons and the Chicago horse mafia, run by Silas Jayne and his nephew, Frank Jayne, Jr. and when Helen Brach realized Bailey was cheating her in horse deals, she may have gotten herself into more trouble than she could have imagined.
Ross Hugi was a well-known local veterinarian whose primary business involved horses. In fact, he was the man to call if you had a dud of a horse insured for a fortune and you needed that horse to die an untimely death. Hugi reluctantly found himself helping the FBI when they came to him threatening jail time unless he helped them, but they weren't interested in him. They were out to solve Helen Brach's disappearance and presumed murder many years before.
Helen Brach's houseman, Jack Matlick, was supposedly the last person to have seen Brach alive and was confrontational and never very forthcoming with the events surrounding her disappearance, yet Richard Bailey sits in jail serving multiple sentences for racketeering and various things related to Brach, still proclaiming his innocence of Brach's murder.
James Ylisela Jr. tells a good story and while his theories are his own (with a little help from his prosecuting sources along the way), the facts behind Brach's disappearance are based on years of research. The questions still remain as to who killed Helen Brach and what truly happened to her, but Ylisela weaves an intriguing story and puts forth several very plausible theories as to what really happened to her. Based on at least one of them, we may never know what happened to her, but if you want to know more about the events surrounding this long-standing Chicago true crime mystery, you should check out Who Killed the Candy Lady? If you do, you'll even discover the story behind why a horse (the only one ever) was placed into Witness Protection!