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”

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

Unsolved Murder in the Victorian Age

  Book review: Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane (Amazon / Book Depository) Interesting, quickly readable history with some modern interpretation of an officially “unsolved” Victorian murder. A teenage maid was murdered and the son of her former employing family is suspected and tried for it, police make some big mistakes, witnesses misremember, societal tensions, some pretty damning evidence, no other obvious suspect, a … Continue reading Unsolved Murder in the Victorian Age