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

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By (author) Judith Flanders

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  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • Format: Paperback | 556 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 211mm x 41mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 15 July 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1250048532
  • ISBN 13: 9781250048530
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 554,645

Product description

THE "NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER "Wonderful... [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." -"Wall Street Journal" In this fascinating exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction Murder in Britain 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 England's new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other--the pioneers 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 a "New York Times" bestselling author and one of the foremost social historians of the Victorian era. Her book "Inside the Victorian Home" was shortlisted for the British Book Awards History Book of the Year. Judith is a frequent contributor to the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement. She lives in London.

Review quote

"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 "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 despite being "stranger than fiction.'" --Scotland on Sunday"Compelling...remarkable...in this intelligent and comprehensive compendium of murder, she has left no gravestone unturned." --Sunday Telegraph (UK)"Want to be appalled by a book? Then try this one...In more than 400 blood-soaked pages Judith Flanders lovingly traces the progression of notorious Victorian murders and the public's taste for them...with her expert knowledge and guidance we can shudder at the violence or the cold-calculation of murderers...excellent, well-written and hugely well-informed." --Daily Mail (UK)"This is so much more than a compendium of famous crimes...Flanders's knowledge of the period is both wide and extraordinarily deep. She writes incisively, and often with dark wit. Best of all, she had a wonderful ability to make connections and to show us familiar sights from unexpected angles...in this unrelievedly excellent book." --Independent (UK) "Judith Flanders displays a profound understanding of the Victorian age, encyclopedic knowledge of crime and criminals, and the popular reactions towards both. Further, she presents it with a sly, wry humor that is a perfect complement to the subject. Dare I say it would be a crime not to read this book?" -Donna Leon "An entertaining excursion into the Victorians' taste for murder...The