About The Hat, winner of the Texas Association of Authors’ 2011-2012 Historical Fiction Award

The Hat has its roots in personal history. What lends this novel its authenticity is that its author, Babette Hughes, is the daughter of a bootlegger who was murdered by the Mafia when she was an infant. Hughes (née Rosen) spent years piecing together her father’s bootlegging career and murder, despite her mother’s attempt to hide the truth. The Hat draws directly on the drama of Hughes’ search for the truth, as told in her acclaimed memoir, Lost And Found. The novel begins in 1931 with the brief, chilling murder of the godfather of the Jewish bootlegging world, Ben Gold. The killer disappears without a trace and Chapter Two, in flashback, introduces Kate Brady, who has just been fired from her Depression-era job working at Shapiro’s Bakery. She has little hope of a future until she meets the magnetic, wealthy Ben Gold, who immediately identifies her as his future wife. They marry in a brilliantly described wedding.

The charged love affair between Kate and Gold’s employee, Bobby Keane, and their struggle to escape the dangerous Gold, is revealed later in the book. Ultimately, The Hat is the story of Kate’s struggle for lost innocence, selfhood, and freedom. Of courage in the struggle with evil. Of bravery in the face of danger. And of being led into daylight by the restoring power of love.

• To read praise for The Hat click here.

The further adventures of Kate as an FBI agent are continued in The Red Scarf, the sequel to The Hat.


April 14, 1932

BEN GOLD’S KILLER knew that he was a man of regular habits. His bedroom light went on exactly at seven, the bathroom light at 7:10, and he was always nattily dressed in suit and fedora at 7:40 when he left for his morning walk to Jake’s newsstand to pick up the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The killer also knew that Gold took a short cut through a nearby alley and had waited, hidden in the ally’s doorway of an indented and closed shoe repair shop. Sometimes, if a headline happened to interest Gold as he walked back with the newspaper, he would stop and read the article, which worried the assassin because it could dangerously throw the timing off. But in exactly five minutes, Gold’s footsteps were heard. As he approached, the executioner removed the safety of the Smith & Wesson .38, stepped out and pointed the gun. Small, dressed in knickers, a shirt and cap, the murderer looked to be no more than fifteen or sixteen years old.

Gold opened his mouth in puzzlement then in shocked recognition.

The bullet shattered Ben Gold’s face.

Read another excerpt from The Hat here.