I quite liked this book. Lots of detailed research presented much in the way of a novel. Really compelling story, and I was involved enough to be annoI quite liked this book. Lots of detailed research presented much in the way of a novel. Really compelling story, and I was involved enough to be annoyed at the way the police ignored perfectly logical suggestions from the public and saddened by how the prosecution made the clues fit their theory, discarding those clues that did not match--especially as this was a death-penalty offense.
I think readers interested in the Victorian age and/or historical true crime will enjoy reading this, especially if they have friends with whom to discuss whether or not this case was truly solved....more
It seems to be an accepted truism in publishing that covering one murder is too "niche" to sell well, consequently said murder must be tied into the gIt seems to be an accepted truism in publishing that covering one murder is too "niche" to sell well, consequently said murder must be tied into the greater scheme of history. Which means if you're reading for the true-crime-mystery, you get bogged down slogging through the chapters that have nothing to do with the crime.
This is NOT one of those books.
This book focuses on the murder. We get enough of the tabloid wars to understand how this particular mystery aided the rise of yellow journalism, and its "if it bleeds, it leads" legacy. But we don't get bogged down in the minutiae of the newspaper world. The murder is always center-stage.
Which is good, because while this story is practically unknown today, it deserves its "murder of the century" title - which was probably chosen to reflect the wild headlines of the tabloids - for inspiring copycat crimes in real life and embedding itself in the popular imagination. In fact, this manner of body disposal is so endemic to murder fiction, you might be surprised it "started" here.
All in all, a solid, entertaining read and a must for lovers of historical true crime....more
I've read one of the trial transcripts and this book goes into some of the details which were too "impolite"Well done, well researched, riveting read.
I've read one of the trial transcripts and this book goes into some of the details which were too "impolite" even to be named at trial, which cleared up some of my questions.
This book also puts the trial in historical context to show why the outcome was so important to so many - what was on trial beyond the murder itself. And it covers what happened afterwards. A fun read for history buffs and those interested in historical true crime....more
This is actually a snapshot of London in the year 1849 using a true crime as its frame. If you are doing research about how Victorian people lived inThis is actually a snapshot of London in the year 1849 using a true crime as its frame. If you are doing research about how Victorian people lived in London at mid-century, this is the book for you. It also makes me want to read more about the crime, so I'm going to look up the book the author recommends....more
The beginning of this book establishes what an Italian boy beggar meant to the citizens of London at this time, which is good because it's not what onThe beginning of this book establishes what an Italian boy beggar meant to the citizens of London at this time, which is good because it's not what one might expect. Impoverished Italian boys were seen as beautiful, cherubic innocents - almost a class apart from regular, English boy beggars. Which is one reason why this murder was so heavily covered by the press. The other reason is why the boy was murdered to begin with - to obtain his body for selling to medical schools.
Following the lives and times of these London Burkers (who followed in the footsteps of Burke and Hare of Edinburgh by murdering to get school dissection corpses) makes for gruesome reading. You might want to skip some bits (I did).
All is not cut and dried, either. I was well pleased by the twists at the end. If you like historical true-crime, you'll like this....more
Some of the internal monologues attributed to persons in this book do not match actual events/facts. Nor is it always clear when we're being presented with literary "story" or evidentiary "truth". Think you'll actually get more of a feel of the time, the crime, and the perpetrators by reading Higdon....more
**spoiler alert** As has been said before, this book has a fantastic but misleading title.
It's not about the invention of murder because: 1) murder was**spoiler alert** As has been said before, this book has a fantastic but misleading title.
It's not about the invention of murder because: 1) murder was invented long before 1841 2) Poe didn't invent murder - Poe never murdered anybody (except perhaps himself) 3) Poe is credited with inventing the murder mystery story, but that was with Murder In The Rue Morgue which comes before The Mystery of Marie Roget.
This book is about how Poe wrote The Mystery of Marie Roget based on the real life case of Mary Rogers, the "beautiful cigar girl."
You get all sorts of background on Poe's life, as well as Mary Rogers' and the time they lived in.
Back in the day, the "solution" to the case was believed to be that Mary Rogers had been the victim of a botched abortion. I'm thinking "botched" is an understatement, since the person was at the wrong end of her body (she was strangled so tightly the cord embedded in her neck, and her face beaten).
I would have liked more theories as to what really happened, but the book is more about the literary and journalistic response of the time, and in that it does an excellent job....more
One of the things I particularly liked about this historical true crime story was that the author hypothesized as to the perpetrator's motive.
NormallOne of the things I particularly liked about this historical true crime story was that the author hypothesized as to the perpetrator's motive.
Normally I don't like fiction (speculation) in my non-fiction, but this was such a shocking and uncharacteristic crime, yet the perpetrator was practically caught red-handed, what could possibly have driven him to commit murder?
The author underpins her theory with a solid base of facts, and you can tell a lot of thought and research went into this book. Despite the historical distance, I felt the crime was definitely "solved."...more
This is the story of how an ACTUAL CRAZY AXE MURDERER killed seven people - Wisconsin's worst act of mass murder until 2005, inspired a Thomas Wolfe sThis is the story of how an ACTUAL CRAZY AXE MURDERER killed seven people - Wisconsin's worst act of mass murder until 2005, inspired a Thomas Wolfe story - as well as many an urban legend, and completely changed a style of architecture - yet most of us have probably never even heard of it.
In fact, parts of what happened that day are still clouded with uncertainties. The author does a wonderful job of sifting through the various accounts, coming up with what seems to be the most reasonable reconstruction, and presenting you with all the evidence for you to make up your own mind.
I'm giving five stars because I actually cried at the end. Whatever your opinions about Frank Lloyd Wright, this book will make you feel for him.
As an aside, just because I think this is interesting, the murderer would not be subject to the death penalty through the justice system even back then. According to the author, "Wisconsin enjoys the nation's longest uninterrupted history of an out-right ban on capital punishment."...more