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The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime


By (author) Judith Flanders

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  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
  • Format: Hardback | 576 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 236mm x 48mm | 703g
  • Publication date: 23 July 2013
  • ISBN 10: 1250024870
  • ISBN 13: 9781250024879
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 496,029

Product description

In this exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders explores some of the most gripping cases that fascinated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction Murder in the nineteenth century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous--transformed into novels, into broadsides and ballads, into theatre and melodrama and opera--even into puppet shows and performing dog-acts. Detective fiction and the new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other--the founders of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens's Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P.D. James and Patricia Cornwell. In this fascinating book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder--both famous and obscure--from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper to the tragedies of the murdered Marr family in London's East End; Burke and Hare and their bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; and Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancee around town by omnibus. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the dangerous to know, "The Invention of Murder" is both a gripping tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.

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Author information

JUDITH FLANDERS is an international bestselling author and one of the foremost social historians of the Victorian era. Her first book, "A Circle of Sisters," was published to great acclaim, and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, and her second book, "Inside the Victorian Home," was shortlisted for the British Book Awards History Book of the Year. Judith is a frequent contributor to the "Sunday Telegraph," "Guardian," "Spectator," the "Times Literary Supplement," and the "Wall Street Journal." She lives in London.

Review quote

"Judith Flanders's wonderful, sometimes appalling "The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime," is a guidebook to notably grisly true-life tales... [Flanders] shines in her readings of literary novels containing criminal and detective elements, such as "Oliver Twist," "Mary Barton" and "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," but can be sharp and very funny about the vagaries of melodramatic and sensational plotting. Holmes once chided Watson, 'You see but you don't observe.' Ms. Flanders does both. This is an enticing book for any reader who, like the genteel lady in Emily Eden's "The Semi-Detached House" (1859), admits: 'There is such a grand murder in the paper . . . a whole family poisoned . . . it is very shocking, but I like to hear about it.'" -"Wall Street Journal" "Flanders' meticulous research, personable style and keen insights are bliss for anyone interested in the Victorians and their quirks." -"Seattle Times" "Superb... Flanders's convincing and smart synthesis of the evolution of an official police force, fictional detectives, and real-life cause celebres will appeal to devotees of true crime and detective fiction alike." -"Publishers Weekly," starred review "Brilliantly researched and rendered, this is an indispensible read for anyone--scholars and the general public alike--who harbors an interest in the evolution of the notion and representation of murder....Flanders presents a fascinating narrative in well-crafted and at times suitably ironic praise." -"Library Journal," starred review "Engrossing...Flanders excels at following the trends in detection and how this was reflected in writing." --Sunday Times (London) "Riveting and meticulous...Flanders balances judicious facts with lively story-telling...the research behind this book is phenomenal...THE INVENTION OF MUDER is what great non-fiction should be; as erudite as it is entertaining, as gripping as fiction despit