How Cooking Made Living Seem Possible

Book review: Midnight Chicken, by Ella Risbridger (Amazon / Book Depository) There is a German word, kummerspeck, that translates literally as ‘grief-bacon,’ and metaphorically as ‘comfort eating’. This book is the grief-bacon book…This is the book I wanted to read when I was sad, but it’s also a book for good days. I’m not going to make it a regular thing to review cookbooks, because … Continue reading How Cooking Made Living Seem Possible

Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

Book review: The Five, by Hallie Rubenhold (Amazon / Book Depository) Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. The truth of these women’s lives was not … Continue reading Lives and Social Histories of the Ripper’s Canonical Five

They All Love Jack: The Ripper as Conspiracy Theory, Not Mystery

Book review: They All Love Jack, by Bruce Robinson (Amazon / Book Depository) … there was nothing illaudable about being a Victorian Mason, any more than it was improper to enjoy membership of a tricycle club. But … this narrative is about the bad guys, and about one in particular who went rotten, and what that did to the rest of the barrel. Beyond that, … Continue reading They All Love Jack: The Ripper as Conspiracy Theory, Not Mystery

A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

Book review: The Lady in the Cellar, by Sinclair McKay Book Depository Number 4, Euston Square, seemingly so prosperous, well-run and attractive, was a boarding house filled with unease; a house that was restless at night; a house with secrets. Soon it would seem like a gigantic doll’s house, open to examination by the entire nation. In Victorian London in 1879, a macabre discovery was … Continue reading A True Victorian Murder Mystery Set in a “Dollhouse”

A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

Book review: Death in the Air, by Kate Winkler Dawson (Amazon / Book Depository) In 1952, two killers stalked postwar London. One was a serial killer: an average-looking, mostly unremarkable, middle-aged invoice clerk operating out of a grungy, now-notorious apartment building; the other was far more insidious and claimed many more victims: a suffocating, polluting smog that killed around 12,000 people. Maybe you can guess which got more media attention. Kate … Continue reading A Braided History of Two Killers in 1952 London

Stop Romanticizing Victorian London

Book review: The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London, by Gilda O’Neill (Amazon / Book Depository) Author and historian Gilda O’Neill, well-known for her social history books exploring the changing face of London’s East End, examines the problems that plagued the “good old days” of the Victorian era, using the thesis that problems of the present day really aren’t all that different from the past, … Continue reading Stop Romanticizing Victorian London