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

By (author) Judith Flanders

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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 fictionMurder 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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  • Paperback | 556 pages
  • 139.7 x 210.82 x 40.64mm | 498.95g
  • 15 Jul 2014
  • St. Martin's Griffin
  • New York
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1250048532
  • 9781250048530
  • 433,081

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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.

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Review quote

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

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