23 Nov The Invention of Murder
The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders
Summary: In this fascinating exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction.
Murder in Britain in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, transformed into novels, into broadsides and ballads, into theatre and melodrama and opera―even into puppet shows and performing dog-acts. Detective fiction and England’s new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other―the pioneers of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens’s Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell.
In this fascinating book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder―both famous and obscure―from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper to the tragedies of the murdered Marr family in London’s East End; Burke and Hare and their bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; and Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancée around town by omnibus. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know, The Invention of Murder is both a gripping tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.
Angie’s Comments: Anyone who thinks that modern society is obsessed by crime should read this book! Crime has long been a source of entertainment and commercialization. Judith Flanders covers the true crime stories of the 1800s, and places it in context of society and development of police forces. Crime influenced plays, books, and other entertainment/artistic pursuits, and vice versa. I now have a new appreciation for Charles Dickens! Flanders includes footnotes that show her humor at some of the odd elements.
Recommended for readers of literature, history, and true crime.