The Invention of Murder

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

3.43 (1,964 ratings by Goodreads)
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"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

In this fascinating exploration of murder in nineteenth century England, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated 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, with cold-blooded killings transformed into novels, broadsides, ballads, opera, and melodrama-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 meticulously researched and engrossing book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder in Great Britain, both famous and obscure: from Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancee around town by omnibus, to Burke and Hare's bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, to the tragedy of the murdered Marr family in London's East End. Through these stories of murder-from the brutal to the pathetic-Flanders builds a rich and multi-faceted portrait of Victorian society in Great Britain. With an irresistible cast of swindlers, forgers, and poisoners, the mad, the bad and the utterly dangerous, The Invention of Murder is both a mesmerizing tale of crime and punishment, and history at its most readable.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 556 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 48.26mm | 703.06g
  • Thomas Dunne Books
  • New York
  • English
  • New
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1250024870
  • 9781250024879
  • 811,688

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

"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 despite being "stranger than fiction.'" --Scotland on Sunday

" 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 this unrelievedly excellent book." --Independent (UK)

"Judith Flanders displays a profound understand
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About Judith Flanders

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.
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Rating details

1,964 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 16% (321)
4 33% (649)
3 32% (636)
2 14% (278)
1 4% (80)
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