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Mr Briggs' Hat: The True Story of a Victorian Railway Murder
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Mr Briggs' Hat: The True Story of a Victorian Railway Murder

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  776 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
On 9 July 1864, after an evening with relatives, Thomas Briggs walked through Fenchurch Station and entered carriage 69 on the 9.45 Hackney-bound train. Little did he know that he was travelling into history ...

A few minutes later, two bank clerks entered the compartment. As they sat down, one of them noticed blood pooled in the buttoned indentations of the cushions. Then
Paperback, 341 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Abacus Software (first published November 1st 2011)
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Nancy Oakes
It's insomnia time again so I'm managing to get quite a bit of reading done while I'm miserable. If I must rate this book, it's about a 3.2. More at my reading journal here.

The crime under study here is in England, 1864, and begins with a train stop at the "midway point on the line" between Fenchurch Street and Chalk Farm. As a train guard is fretting over being behind schedule while the train is stopped at Hackney Station, he hears a "commotion" at the front of the train. Two bank employees h
The Books Blender
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Questa recensione è presente anche sul blog:

Londra, 1864. Il treno è terribile in ritardo (per la cronaca, si tratta di quattro minuti… per i nostri standard rientriamo ancora abbondantemente nella fascia ancora "in orario"), ma al momento è fermo alla stazione di Hackney.
Amis, il capotreno, è pronto per fischiare la partenza, ma dagli scompartimenti di prima classe giungono dei grossi grattacapi. Un uomo, in compagnia del socio, ha cercato di accomodarsi
Jill Hutchinson
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In mid-Victorian England, the railway was coming into its own as a method of travel and opened up the country which previously had used carriages taking days to reach their destinations. The problem with the passenger train was the design....the first class carriage was basically a box in which the traveler was locked without any egress nor any way to contact the porter or other train employees if something was amiss. And this error in judgement by the rail companies led to the first railway mur ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
The London underground railway, the first in the world opened with great fanfare in 1863. This is an account of the first railway murder that occurred only a year later in 1864 and created a great sensation as Londoners realised that they were not safe on this form of public transport. The first trains had no corridor for internal travel between compartments and passengers had no way of calling for help if assaulted. Mr Briggs, a 69 y old banking clerk was travelling home from Fenchurch station ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Neste livro, a autora, Kate Colquhoun, relata-nos a história do assalto e assassinato (brutal) de Thomas Briggs, em 1864, o primeiro crime deste género num comboio britânico.
É um livro interessante, com alguns momentos algo repetitivos, apoiado na documentação de uma época vincada pelo jornalismo sensacionalista, onde a investigação criminal criava destaque na resolução (muitas vezes dúbia) de actos violentos.
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On 9 July 1864 two bank clerks enter a first class train compartment only to discover that it is covered in blood, with no sign of an injured person or body although they do find a walking stick, an empty leather bag and a hat.
Shortly afterwards Thomas Briggs, a senior bank clerk, is found, fatally injured a short way back along the railway line. When Briggs dies without regaining consciousness shortly, a murder investigation commences.
The investigation is headed by Richard Tanner of the still r
Kent Weatherby
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great 'who dunnit' set in England and the US during Civil War times. It gives us some feeling for what went on in the country besides the war. As a lawyer I found the New York extradition proceedings disturbing. You won't know for certain if the London police caught the perpetrator until the very last page. Read it - you'll like it.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bel libro storicamente documentato scritto con la scansione di un giallo, l'accuratezza di un saggio e la verve di un divulgatore. Mr Briggs viene trovato morto scaraventato giù da un treno nell'Inghilterra della incrollabile fede del progresso, della scienza, del commercio, dell'industria. Il delitto scuote il Paese, la nascente Scotland Yard viene coinvolta, inizia una caccia all'uomo basata soprattutto sulle delazioni (più che sui risultati molto incerti dell'inchiesta. CSI era ancora molto l ...more
David Williams
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit to a certain initial prejudice against purchasing this book because, having read the blurb, it seemed to me an attempt to cash in on the success of Kate Summerscale's excellent 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher'. Indeed Jack Whicher is mentioned in these pages as a contemporary of the detective Inspector Richard Tanner who is the chief investigator of the murder of Thomas Briggs in a Victorian railway carriage, the subject of Kate Colquhon's book. It's certainly true that the Colquhon s ...more
Linda Karlsen
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jeg har næsten på forhånd besluttet mig for at jeg kan lide bogen, når den handler om en virkelig "krimi-historie" fra det victorianske England. Under læsningen var der intet der trak ned i min fascination af historien og måden den formidles på.
Det er for mig ikke spændingen om udfaldet der er i centrum, men beskrivelserne af efterforskningen, samfundet, befolkningens ageren, baggrunde for at man gjorde som man gjorde osv. Og her blev jeg ikke skuffet.
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
A book that started promisingly but then became so mired in petty detail and endless repetition that I lost interest. Well-written and researched but I didn't feel the case was interesting enough to require such an in-depth study.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DNF, the mystery would have been interesting if it hadn't been drowned in too many details, most of which drag the pace down to a minimum, making this book almost unreadable. For me, it was just too boring.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Accounts of infamous historical crimes and trials have become quite a popular genre of late, and I can see why. This is the third or fourth of such books that I have read with enormous enjoyment. Allowing the reader an insight into the workings of the police force and justice system, on which so much of what happens today is based, is endlessly fascinating. I love flicking through the old photographs and always enjoy the excerpts of newspaper reports from the time. It is these details that bring ...more
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a very well researched and informative - enjoyable too - account of the first murder on Britain's railways in the 1860s. The case is itself interesting as the book recounts the detectives' quest to piece together the events leading to Thomas Briggs' death and then the journey (literally) to apprehend the main suspect.

What made the book of even greater interest for me was the social aspects relating to the victim and suspect, plus the police work involved.

The police work - the case and
Rachel Stevenson
Mr Briggs' Hat has been compared with Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and this real life detective is mentioned as a contemporary of the book's policeman, Tanner, but it reminded me more of PD James's The Maul and The Pear Tree, the subject of which was the Ratcliffe Highway murders. This book takes place in an entirely different milieu, not the Georgian slums of Wapping, but the mid-Victorian bourgeois enclave of Hackney (yes, before it was gentrified, it was posh): a banker mu ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Thomas Briggs was killed on a train in 1864. Here Colquhoun tells the true story of the investigation and trial into who was responsible.

The book often doesn't feel like a non-fiction book due to the style it is written in. It is told pretty much as a narrative from the night of the murder right the way through the investigation up until a hanging. It does a good job at telling us what the people involved were like and the use of contemporary sources within the text is clever. Real quotes are w
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel describes the first Victorian Railway Killing based on actual facts. The date is July, 1964 and Thomas Briggs was traveling home after work and stopping off to have dinner with his niece and husband. He boarded the first class carriage on the p:45 pm Hackney service of the North London railway. A short time later, two bank clerks entered the compartment where Briggs had just been. As they sat down, they noticed blood pooled in the indentations of the seat cushions and smeared all over ...more
Pat Gerber-Relf
A lot of books have been written going into details about crimes committed in the 19th century. This one is not really out of the ordinary, but in my case interesting as the place where the murder took place was an area which I knew quite well as I lived there in the first 20 years of my life. The East End of London has changed a lot over the years. I was surprised to read about a railway line existing where the murder was comitted, with station names Hackney Wick, Bethnal Green etc. Trains were ...more
There seems to be a big of a vogue at the moment for Victorian true crime - I'm thinking of 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher', 'Mrs Robinson's Diary' etc. Personally I think it's a fascination with the curiosity dichotomy of Victorian life - that respectable exterior versus the seedy underbelly, the dignity and restraint verse the morbid ghoulishness. And what can I say, I'm a sucker for all of that.

This book charts the case of the murder of Mr Thomas Briggs, a respectable middle-class City banker,
V. Briceland
The murder of Mr. Thomas Briggs in a locked first-class railway carriage might have been the London trial everyone talked about in 1864, but Kate Coquhoun's account is not as sensational as the title implies. It's a sturdy and dutiful piece of research, to be sure, with an abundance of hats in evidence. Missing hats. Bloodied hats. Crushed hats. Hats with new lining. Hats that had been sewn and not glued. It's a Victorian shell game, with a murderer hidden beneath Colquhoun's avalanche of hats.

Nov 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london
This was okay. It started fairly briskly but got kind of bogged down as the narrative went on. Thomas Briggs was found dead on the railway tracks having been assaulted & either was either thrown or fell from the train. The clues were few & far between and police investigation by detectives was still in its infancy. Ultimately a young man, Thomas Mueller became the chief person of interest and was ultimately extradited from the USA where he sailed to shortly after the death of Briggs. The ...more
Julie Cohen
Interesting—I like how Colquhoun related this murder case to contextual Victorian concerns and legislation about the railways, defence trial procedure, and capital punishment.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I saw a this story on TV once and was intrigued so I read this book, but for some reason it was not my style. Interesting but still felt a bit like a overgrown newspaper article.
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started off really well and became bogged down with technicalities.
Learnin Curve
May 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detectives
Started promising enough but then fell flat.

Warning. The second set of pictures ruin the ending.
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A decent book that definitely wrings its subject matter dry. Very dry. When they say it's written like a murder mystery, what they mean is a very, very thorough procedural. YMMV.
Merryl Todd
Compared sometimes unfavourably with the Suspicions of Mr Wicher but this is a good book in its own right. Well researched and written.
Catherine Davison
I found it a fascinating read but at times she repeated herself just a little too much so that it felt like 'filler'. I don't think he did it.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I'm very fussy about non-fiction books. Many of them, despite containing promising subject matter, can be rather tedious or lose their momentum part way through. But not this one.

'Mr Briggs' Hat' follows accounts of the first murder committed on the new British railways and the hunt to capture the murderer that takes the reader from the seedy streets of London, to the burgeoning city of New York. Kate Colquhoun has written an incredibly engaging read, deftly weaving the facts of the case within
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one!

This is the true story of the first railway murder, that of Thomas Briggs.

The story chronicles the death of Briggs and the capture of the prime suspect, Franz Muller.

There's more to this story than meets the eye, there's a lot of evidence that was not produced in court, British justice was ad bad back then as it is today!

A really well written book about a very interesting case.
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Kate Colquhoun was born in Ireland in 1964. She is married to literary agent David Miller and lives in west London. They have two sons.
More about Kate Colquhoun...