The Wicked Boy
Author: Kate Summerscale
In East London in the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age thirteen) and his brother Nattie (age twelve) were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. The judge sentenced him to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Shockingly, Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert. At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes's case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Summerscale re-creates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man's capacity to overcome the past.
The Wicked Boy
Author: Kate Summerscale
Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime Book! From the internationally bestselling author, a deeply researched and atmospheric murder mystery of late Victorian-era London In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London -- for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. The court heard testimony about Robert's severe headaches, his fascination with violent criminals and his passion for 'penny dreadfuls', the pulp fiction of the day. He seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced the thirteen-year-old to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Yet Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert--one that would have profoundly shocked anyone who thought they understood the Wicked Boy. At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes's case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man's capacity to overcome the past.
The Wicked Boy
Author: Kate Summerscale
First published in Great Britain by Bloomsbury Publishing.
From the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher comes a brand new true story of Victorian scandal
NOW A CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MOTION PICTURE A true story of death, grief and the law "Garner's book is a writer's profound response to a tragedy and to questions about human responsibility over time as well as at precise moments" The Age In October 1997 a clever young law student at ANU made a bizarre plan to murder her devoted boyfriend after a dinner party at their house. Some of the dinner guests-most of them university students-had heard rumours of the plan. Nobody warned Joe Cinque. He died one Sunday, in his own bed, of a massive dose of rohypnol and heroin. His girlfriend and her best friend were charged with murder. Helen Garner followed the trials in the ACT Supreme Court. Compassionate but unflinching, this is a book about how and why Joe Cinque died. It probes the gap between ethics and the law; examines the helplessness of the courts in the face of what we think of as 'evil'; and explores conscience, culpability, and the battered ideal of duty of care. It is a masterwork from one of Australia's greatest writers. Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best True Crime 2005 Winner of the ABIA Book of the Year 2004
The Queen of Whale Cay
Author: Kate Summerscale
Publisher: A&C Black
Born in 1900 to a promiscuous American oil heiress and a British army captain, Marion Barbara Carstairs realised very early on that she was not like most little girls. Liberated by war work in WWI, Marion reinvented herself as Joe, and quickly went on to establish herself as a leading light of the fashionable lesbian demi-monde. She dressed in men's clothes, smoked cigars and cheroots, tattooed her arms, and became Britain's most celebrated female speed-boat racer - the 'fastest woman on water'. Yet Joe tired of the lime-light in 1934, and retired to the Bahamian Island of Whale Cay. There she fashioned her own self-sufficient kingdom, where she hosted riotous parties which boasted Hollywood actresses and British royalty among their guests. Although her lovers included screen sirens such as Marlene Dietrich, the real love of Joe's life was a small boy-doll named Lord Tod Wadley, to whom she remained devoted throughout her remarkable life. She died, aged 93, in 1993.
A vivid investigation into the unsolved murder case that shocked Victorian England, by the author of the New York Times Notable Book Shooting Victoria. On April 26th, 1871, a police constable walking one of London’s remotest beats stumbled upon a brutalized young woman kneeling in the muddy road, her face smashed and battered. The policeman gaped in horror as the woman stretched out her hand to him, collapsed in the mud, muttered “let me die,” and slipped into a coma. Five days later, she died, her identity still unknown. Within hours of her discovery, scores of Metropolitan Police officers were involved in the investigation, while Scotland Yard sent one of its top detectives to lead it. On the day of her death, the police discovered the girl's identity: Jane Maria Clouson, a sixteen-year-old servant to the Pooks, a respectable Greenwich family. Hours later, they arrested her master's son, twenty-year-old Edmund, for her murder. An epic tale of law and disorder, Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane is the story of a criminal case conducted at the time of the birth of modern forensic science. It is the story of the majesty–and the travesty–of the nineteenth-century British legal system: the zealous prosecutors determined to convict young Pook; and the remarkable lawyer equally determined to obtain his acquittal by any means possible. At the heart of this story are the alleged killer and his alleged victim: Edmund Pook, the young Victorian gentleman caught up in a legal nightmare, and Jane Maria Clouson, the young maid whose hard life before her tragic death serves as a bracing corrective to Downton Abbey fantasies about the lives of British servants. Using an abundant collection of primary sources, Paul Thomas Murphy creates a gripping narrative of the police procedural and the ensuing legal drama, with its many twists and turns, from the discovery of the body until the final judgement–and beyond. For while the murder of Jane Clouson has for nearly one hundred and fifty years remained unsolved, much of the evidence remains, and Murphy, applying contemporary forensic methods to this Victorian cold case, reveals definitively the identity of Jane Clouson's murderer–and provides the resolution that Jane's angry supporters long ago demanded.
The Midnight Assassin
Author: Skip Hollandsworth
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
A sweeping narrative history of a terrifying serial killer--America's first--who stalked Austin, Texas in 1885 In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London's infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens' panic reached a fever pitch. Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as "the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin." And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city. With vivid historical detail and novelistic flair, Texas Monthly journalist Skip Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.
In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land. At the time, the detective was a relatively new invention; there were only eight detectives in all of England and rarely were they called out of London, but this crime was so shocking, as Kate Summerscale relates in her scintillating new book, that Scotland Yard sent its best man to investigate, Inspector Jonathan Whicher. Whicher quickly believed the unbelievable-that someone within the family was responsible for the murder of young Saville Kent. Without sufficient evidence or a confession, though, his case was circumstantial and he returned to London a broken man. Though he would be vindicated five years later, the real legacy of Jonathan Whicher lives on in fiction: the tough, quirky, knowing, and all-seeing detective that we know and love today...from the cryptic Sgt. Cuff in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone to Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher is a provocative work of nonfiction that reads like a Victorian thriller, and in it Kate Summerscale has fashioned a brilliant, multilayered narrative that is as cleverly constructed as it is beautifully written.
A mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper's coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder? Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley's death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor's Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man's confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama. 'An astonishing book ... a vivid chronicle of the unspeakable cruelty perpetrated by a husband on his spouse at a time when, in law, a wife was a man's chattel' Damian Corless, Irish Independent 'Opens in gripping style and rarely falters ... fascinating and well researched' Mary Carr, Irish Mail on Sunday (5 stars) 'Truly illuminating ... Tierney's exploration of the case's influence on Irish and English lawmaking and literature is particularly intriguing, drawing comparisons with Kate Summerscale's similar work in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher' Jessica Traynor, Sunday Times 'Riveting ... meticulously researched and deftly told' Irish Examiner 'A nonfiction work with the pulse of a courtroom drama ... Tierney's book is a moving account of Ellen Langley's squalid last days, but it's also a study of Famine-era Irish society. Men dominate, be they grimly professional gents in tall hats and grey waistcoats or feckless scoundrels using women as chattel' Peter Murphy, Irish Times 'A dark tale of spousal abuse, illicit sex and uncertain justice, set against a backdrop of poverty and privilege, marital inequality and the deep religious divide between Catholics and Protestants. Tierney is an archaeologist, and his skill in unearthing the past is on display as he digs deep into the historical record of a murder case so shocking and controversial that it was debated in parliament. ... Tierney writes with passion ... and deftly weaves a plot that's filled with surprising twists and turns' History Ireland
Author: Lucy Sussex
Publisher: Text Publishing
Before there was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, there was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab—the biggest, and fastest-selling, detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia’s first literary blockbuster. Fergus Hume was an aspiring playwright when he moved from Dunedin to Melbourne in 1885. He wrote The Mystery of a Hansom Cab with the humble hope of bringing his name to the attention of theatre managers. The book sold out its first run almost instantly and it became a runaway word-of-mouth phenomenon—but its author sold the copyright for a mere fifty pounds, missing out on a potential fortune. Blockbuster! is the engrossing story of a book that would help define the genre of crime fiction, and a portrait of a great city in full bloom. Rigorously researched and full of arresting detail, this captivating book is a must-read for all fans of true crime, history and crime fiction alike. Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand. She has edited four anthologies, including She’s Fantastical, shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award. Her award-winning fiction includes books for younger readers and the novel The Scarlet Rider. Lucy has five short-story collections, including My Lady Tongue, A Tour Guide in Utopia, Absolute Uncertainty and Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies. Lucy Sussex's latest book is Blockbuster! Fergus Hume and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. She lives in Melbourne. ‘[Sussex] provides a rich picture of Victorian life and a revealing account of late 19th-century publishing practices…Fascinating.’ Publishers Weekly ‘An absorbing, at times fascinating companion to The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.’ Age/SMH/Brisbane Times ‘Told with wit and lightly worn scholarship…Sussex has written a fine, thoroughly engaging and multifaceted history. Generously, she has shared her fun with the rest of us.’ Australian ‘The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of crime fiction or Australian literature, but is highly recommended even if you’re not: Sussex is a superb story-teller and leavens this fascinating account with dry wit. It deserves to be a blockbuster.’ Tara Sharp ‘This is a fine book about a novel that defined the burgeoning genre of crime fiction, full of wit, important discoveries and fascinating insights – like its subject, a real page-turner.’ Wormwoodiana ‘Sussex skillfully assembles the known information about a very private man and his times, and reveals a Victorian world whose machinations and mysteries are equal to those of his most famous fiction.’ Stuff NZ ‘A very interesting whodunit about a whodunit.’ North and South ‘Blockbuster! is almost too much to take in. It’s a wealth of well researched information, but readable and informative just the same. The book is equipped with bibliography, end notes, epitaphs and reviews, enough to keep the curious occupied for hours.’ Otago Daily Times ‘A wealth of well-researched information, readable, informative and enough to keep the curious occupied for hours.’ Otago Daily Times, 2015’s Must Read Books ‘Blockbuster! makes for highly enjoyable and informative reading.’ Washington Post
A fascinating exploration of slavery and its laws and an unforgettable portrait of a young woman in pursuit of freedom. “Reads like a legal thriller” (The Washington Post). It is a spring morning in New Orleans, 1843. In the Spanish Quarter, on a street lined with flophouses and gambling dens, Madame Carl recognizes a face from her past. It is the face of a German girl, Sally Miller, who disappeared twenty-five years earlier. But the young woman is property, the slave of a nearby cabaret owner. She has no memory of a “white” past. Yet her resemblance to her mother is striking, and she bears two telltale birthmarks. In brilliant novelistic detail, award-winning historian John Bailey reconstructs the exotic sights, sounds, and smells of mid-nineteenth-century New Orleans, as well as the incredible twists and turns of Sally Miller’s celebrated and sensational case. Did Miller, as her relatives sought to prove, arrive from Germany under perilous circumstances as an indentured servant or was she, as her master claimed, part African, and a slave for life? The Lost German Slave Girl is a tour de force of investigative history that reads like a suspense novel. “Bailey keeps us guessing until the end in this page-turning true courtroom drama of 19th-century New Orleans . . . [He] brings to life the fierce legal proceedings with vivid strokes.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A ZEBRA SHOUT FRESH NEW ROMANCE They are the infamous lords, unrepentant rogues whose bad behavior makes for good gossip among the ton. But these sexy scoundrels have stories no one knows. And it takes a special touch to reveal the true hearts behind their devilish disguises . . . Known as a brazen philanderer, Hayden Milton, Earl of Westfield, is almost done in by a vengeful mistress who aims a gun at a rather essential part of his anatomy—but ends up wounding his thigh instead. Recuperating in his London townhouse, Hayden is confronted by his new medical attendant. Sophia Camden intrigues him, for behind her starched uniform is an enticing beauty better suited for bedding than dispensing salves and changing bandages. Unshaken by his arrogance, not to mention impropriety, Sophia offers Hayden a dare: allow her ten days to prove her competency. If she resigns in exasperation like her two predecessors, she will be beholden to this wicked seducer. As a battle of wills begins, Sophia finds herself distracted by the earl’s muscular physique . . . and discovers that the man within longs only for a second chance to love.
Murder in the Bayou
Author: Ethan Brown
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women were discovered around the town of Jennings, in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana. They had all engaged in sex work as a means of survival, and they came to be called the Jeff Davis 8. The investigations into their deaths, originally searching for a serial killer, raised questions about police misconduct and corruption.
The Mile End Murder
Author: Sinclair McKay
Publisher: Aurum Press Limited
On Thursday 17 August, 1860, wealthy widow Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home,killed by a blow to the back of her head.What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation. A veritable locked room mystery, there were an abundance of suspects,from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy,until he was sent to prison for robbery. During the police investigation there were several twists and dramatic discoveries, as suspects sought to incriminate each other and fresh evidence was discovered at the last minute. Eventually, it led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate. Years later the case caught the attention of Arthur Conan Doyle, who was convinced that an innocent man had been convicted and executed for the crime. But Conan Doyle was never able to find the real murder. Now, bestselling author Sinclair McKay has solved the case and will reveal it exclusively in The Mile End Murder