books chesek o rourke

books chesek o rourkeTwo NJ Authors tell stories of Asbury’s Heroes and Villains, in Two River area appearance

ASBURY PARK, NJ – They’re the people who helped a small Jersey Shore resort town build a giant profile in the public eye — the witnesses who shared their stories in words, pictures and music; the Hollywood royalty, Washington insiders and Wall Street billionaires. The everyday heroes of the community, who made a year-round life in this city of summers — and the ones whose dark deeds cast an ominous shadow over the boulevards and boardwalk. On the evening of Thursday, June 11, the independently owned River Road Books in Fair Haven welcomes a pair of New Jersey authors for a 7 p.m. reading and signing event, presented under the theme of Heroes and Villains of Asbury Park.

Appearing will be Tom Chesek, whose just-published Legendary Locals of Asbury Park is among the newest titles in the Legendary Locals series from Arcadia Publishing. A whirlwind tour of the city’s history in words and pictures, the book looks behind the landmark buildings and familiar institutions to examine the “visionaries and vagabonds; the shopkeepers and showpeople” who made their mark. It’s a saga that spans such familiar names and faces as Bruce Springsteen, Stephen Crane, Danny De Vito and Leon Hess — as well as such classic characters as Mr. Fashions and Madam Marie; the Queen of Little Italy and the Prince of the Pitchmen; Frankie the Hat and Maggie the Cat; Putt Putt Petillo and the One-Armed Arab. It’s also a love letter to the Legendary Locals of the here and now; composed by a veteran correspondent (for the Asbury Park Press and who serves as “writer in residence” at Asbury Park’s historic Stephen Crane House.

books heroes villains

From a community’s positive efforts at recapturing its glory days, the discussion shifts to the city’s fall into neglect and decay during the final decades of the twentieth century. Out of this environment emerged Richard Biegenwald, a figure whose time in Asbury Park left a trail of cold blooded murder and shattered lives across two states — earning him the title of The Jersey Shore Thrill Killer. In his book of that name from The History Press, nonfiction author and retired New Jersey State Trooper John E. O’Rourke traces the twisted history of Biegenwald, a previously convicted murderer set free on the dark streets of a dying community to pen a new and even bloodier chapter in a chilling true-crime story. It’s also a detailed account of how the region’s law enforcement professionals and prosecutors worked to remove a human monster from the streets; written with an insider’s perspective by the author of New Jersey State Troopers 1961-2011: Remembering the Fallen and Jersey State Troopers: Sacrifice at the Altar of Public Service.

River Road Books is located at 759 River Road in Fair Haven, NJ, between Red Bank and Rumson. Signing copies will be available for purchase at the event, with book reservations and additional information available by calling or visiting

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...