|Date Published||12 April 2018|
The Battered Body Beneath the Flagstones & Other Victorian Scandals
A collection of shocking, murderous and bizarre true Victorian tales from the UK and the US.
A collection of shocking, murderous and bizarre true Victorian tales from the UK and the US.For this collection, Michelle Morgan scoured Old Bailey Online and local historical newspaper databases to find Victorian crimes, including murder, suicide, assassination and adultery. Though there are some oldie-but-goodies in the book (it starts with an extended account of Maria Manning), this is a first airing for most of the cases presented here.
This is a great book for dipping in to as all the cases stand alone. The writing is easy to read and bubbles along, and the stories are brought to life by bursts of dialogue, which I presume are reconstructed from evidence presented in court. Where there is evidently little material available about a case, the account given is short, but a number of cases are given an extended treatment. The author does not impose her opinion on the material but presents an impartial account of the case drawn from factual, historical sources.
The material is organised into three sections: crimes of passion; scandals related to the theatre; and the baffling, amusing and perplexing, and includes cases from across the UK and the US. The book also contains a useful index.
Like the majority of true crime books that present a collection of cases, Victorian Scandals does not have a narrative arc and consequently there is no argument that organises and shapes the material. As a collection, it is fun to dip in to; the cases themselves are written engagingly and with appealing dramatisation of key events. For me, the most interesting section is that concerning the theatre, and if that were developed into a book on its own, it would be a fascinating read.
Reviewed 11 May 2019 by Kim Fleet