“When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.”
In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.
Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”
"Jobb's true crime stories are not to be missed" – CrimeReads
I specialize in true crime and I'm drawn to stories that have been overlooked or forgotten – hidden gems tucked away in the attics of history. My latest book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, recreates Scotland Yard's manhunt for a Victorian Era serial killer who murdered as many as 10 people in Britain, the U.S. and Canada. I discovered the subject of my previous book, Empire of Deception – Leo Koretz and his amazing oil swindle in 1920s Chicago – by chance, while doing other research. I spotted a reference to his arrest in Nova Scotia and I knew instantly it was a great story.
My previous books include The Cajuns: A People's Story of Exile and Triumph, which chronicles the expulsion of French-speaking Acadians from Eastern Canada more than two centuries ago and the founding of Louisiana’s Cajun culture. Calculated Risk is an investigation into a 1992 explosion that killed twenty-six Nova Scotia coal miners and led to sweeping reforms to workplace safety laws. I was a reporter, editor and columnist with Halifax’s leading newspaper, the Chronicle Herald, for 20 years and I write for major newspapers and magazines in Canada and the U.S. I have been a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax since 2004, where I'm on the faculty of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program.
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb is a 2021 Algonquin Books publication.
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream- cold- bloodedly poisoned at least ten people and attempted to kill several more- that we know about, in three different countries, during the Victorian era.
This case, as the blurb states, was mostly forgotten about, so I was completely unaware of it before reading this book.
Dubbed the “Lambeth poisoner", Cream preyed on prostitutes, giving them capsules which contained poison. Naturally, their deaths were hideously agonizing.
Cream held a medical license which gave him ready access to certain drugs and chemicals- a fact he did little to hide.
He also attempted to extort money from wealthy men by accusing them of committing his crimes- this didn’t work- but the attempt was incredibly bold- and just plain nuts!
Ironically, his blackmail schemes were what got him in trouble, initially, along with his reputation as an abortionist.
While he was continuously under suspicion, he managed to skirt the law for a long time- but eventually, his luck did run out.
Once he was finally brought to trial, the failures and prejudices of Scotland Yard were exposed for all to see. The class and sex of the victims played no small role this, obviously.
“The real mystery is why it took Scotland Yard so long to realize the Lambeth Poisoner was hiding in plain sight- a drug-addicted doctor who consorted with prostitutes, had access to strychnine, and knew far too much about the gruesome deaths of four women.”
Overall, this is an incredible true crime case. The author did a good job with organizing the material, and provides photographs, letters, documents and illustrations throughout, as well.
Dr. Cream is a chilling figure, and an enigma in some ways.The author doesn’t attempt to explore the psychology behind the crimes, or his choice in victims, in depth, sticking instead to more of a journalistic approach, allowing the reader to come to those obvious conclusions organically.
This book sheds light on the doctor's crimes, his methods, his boldness, and the investigations that allowed him to continue his murderous career far longer than he should have-
3.5 The 1800s were the heydey for poisoners. Poisons were readily available and there were, until the middle of the century, no tests that could detect poison as a cause of death. Arsenic was the poison of choice, but was the first poison detection test that was developed. Enterprising individual went on to find other poisons, there were many from which to choose. Dr. Creams poison of choice was strychnine. He would kill many in the US, Canada and England.
During present time he would have been stopped much earlier. With no computers that could track past crimes, there were no connections that could easily be made. Not even after he was found guilty and spent ten years in Joliet, he was released to kill again, start again in other countries. Thanks to an intrepid detective who made many trips, the pieces were finally put together.
Well researched, and though it went back and forth in time, I found this true crime story fascinating. Crossley was the narrator and he did well.
Amongst Jack the Ripper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.H. Holmes, and the birth of the modern medical movement... there was another man murdering prostitutes and women of no means in London and Chicago. His story has somehow faded in the background of more sensationalized figures—and yet his reign of murders was no less terrifying.
Research: ★★★★★ Ease of reading: ★★★★ Contextualization: ★★★★★ "Enjoyment": ★★★★★
"In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help."
I've pulled right from the book's blurb above because I think it's a near-perfect way to describe the contents of this piece of research.
Are you aware of London's Jack the Ripper? Of course. But are you aware of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream? You should be, as he was worse.
The only way I can describe my reading experience for this book is: baffling and horrifying. Here was a white man from a rich Canadian family hiding behind a doctor's degree in the late 1800s—who managed to evade justice for literal decades of murdering across three countries. He was suspected, questioned, arrested, and identified as a predator on multiple occasions throughout his reign of global terror... and yet money, corruption, sexism, racism, and more kept him on the streets.
How did he do it? HOW did he get away with it, when his murders were nearly identical, he was tied to the scenes of the crime and the victims, and his mental state gave him away at nearly every turn with erratic behaviors and letters of confession sent to the police?
Author Dean Jobb takes us on this chilling, ominous journey through immaculately researched chapters and photos detailing every leg of Dr. Cream's life. In a similar manner to The Devil and the White City, this work includes direct quotations in a narrative style—all sourced—and play-by-play journeys from each of Dr. Cream's murderous explorations. The writing style with dialogue and descriptions made for an easy, almost fictional/narrative read, but this is no work of fiction.
I found it chilling to see Dr. Cream in photos, and even more disturbing to read the blackmail letters he sent to the police and the documents written down about him at the time. Seeing the plight of the Victorian single woman—often existing at society's fringes in prostitution, one of the few lucrative positions available to her—and her fatal encounters with a doctor whom she thought she could trust... chilling.
Dean Jobb has done a fantastic job with this work. I put it right up there with Devil in the White City and The Butchering Art, both nonfiction works dealing with similar subject matter.
The only elements of this work that I wish the author had provided more context for were the discussions on sexism and race that played out in Dr. Cream's ability to evade justice. He preyed on white female prostitutes, and in one particular court case his lawyer was easily able to discredit a witness because she was a Black woman. Jobb discusses the sexism at work during these times in an afterword at the end—most likely as a way to keep the editorialization minimal within the "narrative" timeline—but he does not go into detail on the levels of racism at play. Even though we as readers could reasonably take it as a given, due to the time period, it would have been appropriate to give that topic more airtime.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
During the Victorian Age in Britain, there were three murderers about whom much has been written: Dr. Hawley Crippen, Jack the Ripper, and the subject of this book, Dr. Neill Cream. This was a time in which the term, serial killer, had not come into use and Dr. Cream fits perfectly into that category as he poisoned at least eight people (but was suspected of more.)
Cream was a physician with good credentials, from a good family, and seemed to be a likeable person, at least in the beginning of his career. He soon became obsessed with sex and had stated that all prostitutes should be "eliminated". He set out to do just that.
He moved from Canada to the US and then to Britain, leaving a wake of dead women in his path. His weapon was poison which in those early days of medicine usually could not be identified. Additionally, crime detection was rather shoddy and the deaths of prostitutes were usually not a priority for investigation. In one instance, Cream was brought to trial and served a few years in prison but it was more for malpractice than murder. Once released, he fled to Britain and continued his killing spree. Finally, his actions were discovered, he was convicted and executed.
It is an interesting story but my complaint is the story's structure. The author jumps around in time from the US to Canada, back to the US, then to Britain, ad infinitum. It becomes rather confusing and doesn't seem necessary. The trail of victims and Dr. Cream's actions could have been told in chronological order for better results and the understanding of Dr. Cream who became more psychopathic (and careless) as time went on. It is worth a read if one can get by that particular issue.
A brilliant piece of writing with extensive research to bring to life the true story of a Victorian era’s serial killer.
Dr. Cream was able to murder several people across two continents for years: Canada, England and the USA.
During a span of fifteen years he was captured, tried and acquitted. He was captured and tried again, found guilty went to prison for life and got his life sentence commuted. None of which prevented him from moving on, presenting himself as a doctor (he actually had a medical degree, but chose not to use it for good) and carrying out his heinous crimes elsewhere.
Finally Scotland Yard detectives began to put the pieces together by travelling to Canada and the USA gathering evidence.
Dr. Cream was likely a psychopath – a term that was unknown at that time – but my estimation is that he was a psychopath that was begging to be caught by his very reckless and abundantly stupid actions, because Cream was by no means a stupid man.
Everybody on the planet has heard of ‘Jack the Ripper’ but I had never heard of Dr. Cream before and to be fair his murders were no less horrific even though he did not cut up the bodies of his victim. He was, however, even more insidious.
This book contains two of my favorite genres: history and true crime. I had never heard of Dr. Cream or his crimes (not sure if it’s more well-known in England), so I was interested in learning more about this Jack-the-Ripper-esque killer.
Dr. Cream was an actual practicing doctor during the later half of the 19th century who poisoned (mostly) women in the guise of providing them with medical treatment. His crimes spanned several countries (the US, Canada, and the UK). It’s only because of his own hubris that he was eventually caught and put on trial. This book had all the makings of an intriguing story – especially the inclusion of a main character that is truly nuts. However, I felt that this book suffered from a structure that just didn’t work. The book jumps around from different time periods for no discernible reason. I think it would have benefitted from a more chronological telling. It would have made the book so much easier to follow along with. I found myself confused with which part of Dr. Cream’s story I was reading and how all of the events of his life connected together. The book starts with his crimes in the UK only to go back and forth between his past and previous crimes. There were also some parts of the story that felt rather dry even though the story is rife with dramatic moments (especially when one of the poisonings is described).
Obviously, you can tell that the author spent a ton of time researching this case and this period in history. The book is well-supported by facts and insights into that time period. However, I most likely won’t be recommending this to anyone because I just couldn’t get past the hard-to-follow structure. Perhaps this was just a miss for me – maybe other readers won’t be bothered by this storytelling technique.
*Free ARC provided by Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*
“A respectable façade could mask an appetite for drink, illicit sex, and other sins being denounced from the pulpit every Sunday. Many Victorian men who ‘professed allegiance to the sexual ideals of purity and self-restraint,’ a historian of the period has noted, ‘spent their nights prowling through the underworld of prostitution and sexual deviancy.’ ” Author Jobb observed that Robert Louis Stevenson’s fictional creation, Mr Henry Hyde had nothing over Dr Cream. “Cream was releasing a Mr Hyde of his own.”
Serial killers in the 19th century were not exactly a dime a dozen. The USA had HH Holmes. England was home to Jack the Ripper but it took polite, gentle, and unassuming Canada (cough, cough!) to create a monster at the level of Thomas Neill Cream and then export the evil to England, onward to the USA, and then back to England for a curtain call. Dr Cream was most definitely a seriously nasty piece of work and THE CASE OF THE MURDEROUS DR CREAM tells the story in an entertaining, educational, and informative masterwork of the true crime genre.
Author Jobb provides a fascinating view of a man whose life work of evil was likened to “an Elizabethan tragedy of horrors”. And, of course, the reader will get an insider’s peek at the colossal screw-ups in both Illinois’ and Scotland Yard’s law enforcement and judicial system that allowed Cream to continue a string of crimes that should have been stopped cold with a life sentence for murder and incarceration in Joliet Prison. Beyond that, the reader will be treated to a snapshot of the tools, techniques, and methods of criminal investigation, the manner in which trials were conducted and some of the pertinent rules of jurisprudence. Last but hardly least, Jobb will point an accusing finger at Cream’s hidden but very real accomplice – institutionalized, endemic, 19th century misogyny embodied in the cultural views and the legislation regarding marriage and divorce, prostitution, abortion, and employment.
I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via Algonquin books.
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is absolutely chilling to the bone to read. I've always had an interest in true crime and read everything I can on Jack the Ripper, buy I had never heard of Dr Cream and is so many ways he was scarier than Jack the Ripper! How Dr. Thomas Neil Cream got away with his murder spree for so long is baffling and scary. And to think it was a doctor doing it - terrifying! Dr. Cream was a Canadian white male from a wealthy family and was suspected, interviewed and arrested but corruption, money, racism and sexism meant he got away with it for decades. The evidence, information and even photographs in this book will make your toes curl and your blood go cold. If you love true crime and have an interest in Jack the Ripper , you really need to read this!
I received this as an ARC from Algonquin Books. Thank You.
This piece of True Crime, one of my favourite genres, takes place in Victorian England, Canada, and the United States. It showed how one man was able to use his power and privilege, as being part of the medical profession, to take things into his own hands.
In his wake he left many unhappy people. It also caused the Metropolitan Police Force AKA Scotland Yard with a big task. Find the killer, but also look inside their department to do better.
Parts of this are very riveting and you will want to finish it in one go. If you like the original Penny Dreadful genre this one is also for you.
Also known as the Lambeth Poisoner, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream spent the better part of a year hunting and eliminating prostitutes in and around London in the early 1890s. Once Scotland Yard narrowed in on who they believed to be their suspect, Inspector Frederick Smith Jarvis was sent to North America to dig into Cream’s past. What he would uncover would lead Scotland Yard to believe Cream was their man.
Through interviews with key figures in Cream’s past as well as good, honest, boots-on-the-ground investigative work, Jarvis was able to paint a clearer picture of the man Doctor Thomas Neill Cream had been before arriving in England. Uncovering blackmail schemes, multiple murder trials and a stint in an Illinois state prison, Inspector Jarvis had no doubt Cream was the man behind the recent poisonings in London.
Author Dean Jobb actually stumbled upon Thomas Cream during research for another project and decided to see where it would take him. As Cream’s murders happened shortly after Jack the Ripper’s killing spree, Cream appeared to be largely forgotten. While his victims died in a less sensationalistic way than those who fell under Jack, Cream’s murders were no less cruel. Targeting his victims through strychnine – a deadly poison that went hand-in-hand with an agonizing death – Cream took advantage of his standing as a medical professional, allowing his victims to trust him when prescribing medication.
Throughout the book, I never understood how Cream stayed on the lam for as long as he did. Even before being locked up in the 1880s, he had left several paper trails that could have easily led back to him, as he appears to have been completely disorganized at times. It certainly helped that the justice system in the Victorian Era was less than perfect, so it made it easy for someone to slip through the cracks. However, like all serial killers, Cream was arrogant, which led him to believe he likely wouldn’t be caught. It’s amazing that even after two murder trials (only one of which led to a conviction) in the United States, Cream was released and allowed to leave the country and start up again across the Pond. Jobb exposes the faults in the US criminal justice system that allowed this to happen through political pressure and alleged bribes after Cream had originally been sentenced to life behind bars.
As much as this book is about the crimes of Dr. Cream, it is also about an era in time in which someone like this could move around so freely. As the justice system evolved (at one point, Jobb discusses the practice of measuring body parts of criminals as a means of identifying repeat offenders), it was only a matter of time before Cream’s past would catch up with him as he continued along this path. Dean Jobb’s exhaustive research paints a portrait of a career criminal who wrote a prescription for his own downfall.
Interesting but hard to read. So much research and as his life was in three countries, at least- a lot of location change/ time changes. And it is not only the title subject but various forensics and other modes/ fads for the historic methods of the period for discerning identity or wrong doers physical attributes.
It was a period of time in which lethal substances were sold with less regard or most any regulation for form/strength on top of it. Changing your name could also thoroughly conceal past history or prison record.
It's a 4 or 5 star in graphics of drawings and photos, plus the immense research quotient. But somehow the whole read did not compel me to read further or give any introspection to the individual psyche or causes of his state. He really was evil. With the conditions of density and classes of street livers or extremely young throwaways in these cities- it is only surprising that he was ever contained. Only his own mouth and gossiping with other men habits fingered him. There were probably dozens he gave pills to who just "were gone" and were not put on his victims lists. Or which he killed purposely while doing abortions. Holmes too had more victims than recorded or proven. Serial killers of great numbers almost always have many for which they are not the known cause of death. Sickness or accident or some other situation being seen as had happened instead. He also blackmailed extensively.
"When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge." - Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," 1892
The Case: Dr. Thomas Neill Cream also known as the Lambeth Poisoner was a medical doctor and a serial killer, preying on women in Canada, Chicago and London since 1876 until his capture in 1892. In this book, the author gives a comprehensive account Dr. Cream's crimes and his personal life - from family background, and medical education, his victims, arrest, trial and finally his execution in November 1892.
My thoughts: For a case that happened so long ago, I must say that this was a really well-researched book. It took me a few days to finish it as there were a lot of information in this book. I really liked that there were photos and illustrations included in this book.
The writing held my interest although the second half of the book did slow down a bit.
It was fascinating to know that Dr. Cream went to the same medical school - The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and may at some point met him too.
There was speculation that Dr. Cream was Jack the Ripper!
In a nutshell, this was an interesting read and if you enjoy old cases, you may want to read this!
Pub. Date: June 1st, 2021
***Thank you Harper Collins Canada, author Dean Jobb and NetGalley for gifted review copy to read & review. ***
A very well researched historical nonfiction on Dr Thomas Neill Cream, who may have been the very first serial killer ever. Covering parts of the United States (mainly the Chicago and surrounding area), Canada and London in the mid to late 1800's, Cream took his killing spree to a total of at least 10 people, mostly women. Convicted twice for murder, pardoned once by an idiot Governor of Illinois, while he was in Stateville - a prison in Joliet Illinois - after serving 14 years. And finally sentenced to death by hanging in his second murder trial. He was put to death on November 15, 1892 in the court area of Newgate Prison in London England.
Legend says Cream claimed to be Jack the Ripper as he was hung, however that has been disproved. Cream was incarcerated when Jack the Ripper was at large - although some believe he had a body double in prison while he was actually free to wander.
This was a very well researched book that had a lot of facts included. It was not a 'narrative' nonfiction, but was very close. It read well and kept your interest.
“The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer” by Dean Jobb could win longest title 😂 I gave it 3.5 stars recently for a decent read.
It is a true crime / historical nonfiction published in 2021 @algonquinbooks. As the title states, it’s about a serial killer doctor in the Victorian era who rivals Jack the Ripper in brazen murder but perhaps not so much in notoriety.
With meticulous research laid out in several thematic chapters, Jobb presents the case of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, a doctor who killed with poison over the span of 15 years in the US, Great Britain and Canada. Most of the victims were vulnerable women who had turned to him for medical help. Against the backdrop of Victorian society, the author shows several pervasive themes often found in this historical context: the victimhood of women and the lower social class, the budding institutionalization of law enforcement + forensic science, the craze and media frenzy of detective fiction + crime stories feeding into society’s fascination with the gruesome, and the ethics + morality of the time.
The book follows the investigation into the poisonings of several women and the links that finally pointed to the weird, boisterous, bizarre doctor. New investigative techniques and forensic capabilities are discussed. The author draws from a wealth of resources, including the actual letters handled by Cream, newspapers, interviews, historical documents kept in museums, etc. It is obviously a work of a great research and attention to detail.
What to Know ⤵️
— Straight shooting crime nonfiction, not overly academic and uses a mix of modern + historical research to present an overarching story from the personal details of Cream to the trial + aftermath
— Can feel a bit slow to get to the poisonings / trial, but it’s worth seeing the entire picture before it gets there IMO
— Currently has a 3.66 star average with over 2,500 ratings on GR.
This book is so laser focused on Cream as a person that the author never grapples with the major themes and issues at play, including how privilege, patriarchy, and race allowed him to literally get away with murder in two countries before being caught in a third. And can I say it's kinda weird how many of the historical documents are credited to the author's personal collection?
But more than anything else, Jobb made a story about a serial killer boring. That almost takes work. Sigh.
I enjoyed this book and the writing - this was so engaging and so interesting I just really enjoyed it so much I couldn't put it down!
Dr. Cream has been poisoning people all over the world for at least fifteen years. The story tells around the 1892 trial in London when Dr. Cream was finally being tried for his atrocious acts. As a doctor and member of the medical community, the trust and his position, along with poor investigation skills and blunders, is probably why Dr. Cream had been able to murder this many people so far.
Jobb really unearthed the investigational efforts or lack of in this amazing account of a man's crime - a new breed of killer at the time.
When you think about it, it’s not really that hard to believe that a serial poisoner who killed at least ten people in three countries has been almost entirely excised from the churning mass of popular memory. That’s the thing about the past; there’s just so dang much of it, and most people, places, and things end up forgotten less than a handful of decades later.
Such was the fate of this book’s subject, who despite the tri-country murder spree he embarked on in the late 1800s (and despite contemporary predictions of his eternal infamy) has been pretty much left to molder as a footnote to the history of Victorian London.
But he is footnotable enough to make this microhistory entertaining and educational—the former especially if you’re into true crime and the latter if you enjoy fun facts about the history of medicine and forensic science. (For example, here’s a tip: If you feed a bit of a corpse to a cat and the cat dies, odds are Mr. Body was poisoned.)
And Dr. Cream probably did the poisoning, at least if the cadaver in question was a prostitute, seeking an abortion, and/or his wife. While those characteristics are not necessarily notable on their own (many serial killers are S-class misogynists whose victims were vulnerable and unlikely to be missed), they do allow for some interesting musings about the classism, sexism, and repression typically associated with that era.
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is a twisty, facts-filled caper through the smoky alleys and Holmes-haunted streets of London, and as a historical true crime story, comes with the added benefit of feeling less exploitative than some of the genre’s more excessive projects—the fact that these crimes happened over a hundred years ago does not make them less heinous, but it does make it easier to distance oneself from the thorny questions they raise.
(There’s also a lot of dumb puns in the contemporary newspapers about Cream and his crimes, which is fun. I don’t know what 19th century reporter came up with “Cream a Tartar” as a title for an article, but I respect it. I kinda hate it, but I respect it.)
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream was a sadistic Victorian-era serial killer who poisoned his victims and wrote letters to draw attention to his crimes, assuming pseudonyms and sometimes trying to blackmail others. It is interesting to see what has always united serial killers: grandiosity, lies, cruelty, self-perceptions of infallibility, and most often emphatically, misogyny. As a work of historical scholarship, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream impresses. Dean Jobb went for it, exhaustively, perhaps too exhaustively. I respect the author’s decision not to say anything he couldn’t prove but found myself wanting more speculation regarding Cream’s motivations, which could have been accomplished by quoting additional contemporaries of Cream’s time.
I wanted so badly to enjoy this book! It started off super interesting and intriguing. Sadly, about halfway through it lacked the energy and storytelling of the first part. I think the author did a great job with his research and I'm aware it must have taken a great deal of research to get the story just right. It just didn't hold my interest after a while.
How have I never heard of Dr. Cream? He killed more people than Jack the Ripper, and this is the first time I've ever seen anything about him. The story was super interesting, but the book was horribly disorganized. Mr. Jobb really needed a better editor.
At times this felt like a dissertation (and the 65 pages of sources at the end can attest to that), by no means is that saying this is wrong. It was a great study into a (possibly not well known) serial killer in Victorian England. The author uses actual court documents in order to fully encapsulate Dr. Cream and how he carried out his crimes. For fans of true crime, this is a great read.
A well done and through account of the case of Dr. Cream. Jobb painted an excellent picture of the world that Cream preyed upon. He has done, in my opinion, an excellent job of proving that Cream had, at the very least, nine victims. A nice array of photographs accompanied the interesting narrative. I am sure there will be one complaint, it is long. For me it could not have been too long. I will admit, however, that after he put the case to rest, that last chapter, I was ready to pack it in. Not due to any length. I just felt like that last chapter was rushed and not done with the same masterful stroke that was used with the rest of the book. Jobb took his time and presented the reader with a concise and accurate account of the deeds of the infamous Dr. Cream. At times he was like a prosecutor, at times a storyteller, at times a historian, but always a fan of true crime. He did flirt with the ghost of Jack the Ripper. How could he not? Cream was Jack the poisoner. I was sad and happy to see him address this at the end. Sad because I did not think it necessary and it was only pandering to those who are foolish enough to think that Cream could have escaped Joliet, committed the Ripper crimes, and then gone back to Joliet. The fact that Cream is on any list as a Ripper possible is simply ludicrous. I was happy, however, that he did address it again only to put it to rest forever - one would hope. This was, for me, a great true crime find. I was not aware of this case before and it was interesting to read of a man who tramped along the same grounds, around the same time as well, as H. H. Holmes and the great Ripper. It was also disturbing that there were plenty of other cases - some deadly and some not - that turned out not to be Cream. How many others were there. It also made me realize that it seemed to be somewhat of a fad - maybe a kink - for some men to give women pills that made them sick and at times killed them. Although for most I would assume the former was the motive. Maybe it was a white knight syndrome. They would make the lady sick and either save her or protect her. The proof of the latter would be in it not happening again - albeit because he was the one to do it to begin with. A good summer read that is guaranteed to leave one riveted.
Interesting chronology about the life and crimes of Dr. Thomas Neill Cream. I'd never heard of him before of his serial killer life of using poison on mostly the most vulnerable. Amazing that he got away with it for so long, based on his class and education.
True crime is always interesting because I wonder why and how these people ended up the way they did--let's face it, these books are never about the mundane killings, they're about the headline grabbers, the unsolved killings, the unthinkable losses of life. Here we have a Scotch Canadian, a Sunday School teacher, even, who somehow turns to using strychnine to murder "fallen" or "unfortunate" women. And because this is during the Victorian Era, we don't have the best forensics and detection abilities, but even with that stipulation there are times when I thought "omg how lucky could this guy get?!"
In keeping with the era, the writing is slow and meandering, moving from Cream's release from Joliet to his activities in London back to his upbringing and education in Canada and from the "present" day to the Scotland Yard investigation. Luckily there are not so many people that it becomes difficult to keep the different victims and investigators separate. There is a part of me, though, that wished the story had been told as though we didn't know whodunnit and were following the evidence along with the detectives and they pieced things together.
*I received a free ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review*
I have not read a lot of true crime, but have spent the past year watching more true crime shows than is probably good for me. I was immediately drawn into this story and had trouble putting it down. The author does a great job of giving context for the time in which these crimes were committed including other high profile crimes as well as popular culture. Everyone has heard of Jack the Ripper but not Dr. Cream despite the fact that these serial killers were active so close together. The research that went into this book is clear and there is so much detail to Cream's history and early years. It was also really interesting to learn more about the early days of police investigations and evidence testing. There were so many times I wanted to reach into the past and shake the police for doing such a terrible job of taking the murders seriously or just communicating with different divisions within the same department!