Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 18 May 2012

Murders of London - David Long

'This book is for...the ones who want to see for themselves a darker side of this great city, and to explore some of the more macabre episodes in its long and blood-soaked history.'

This intriguing little book takes us back to the scenes of crimes in London and investigates these places as they are now - many of them look completely ordinary on the face of it, or have been all but forgotten. However, the author has collected together the stories and crimes that have occurred and revisited the scenes, and in so doing he has compiled a fascinating look at the dark secrets and shocking stories behind the often innnocent-looking exteriors of London's streets. 

The book has an introduction from the author, and is then divided into ten sections, each covering a different area of London, from East of the City, West End, and On the River, to Kensington & Chelsea, South West London, and more. Within these geographical areas, the author has recounted several stories of murders that have occurred there, detailing the perpetrators and the victims, highlighting curious aspects of the crimes, and furnishing each of these accounts with several colour photographs depicting the locations as they are in the present day.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, many of us have a fascination for murders, and murderers, and if you are one such reader, then you will enjoy these varied and engrossing accounts of murders in London's past. There will certainly be some names contained here that you will find familiar:

'Even now, many decades after their conviction and imprisonment or execution, London's worst murderers find themselves as celebrated as any of the city's more talented or public-spirited inhabitants. Names such as Crippen, Christie and Ellis - and of course Jack the Ripper - are woven into the fabric of London's cultural history, alongside those of Whittington, Dickens and Wren.'

This curious volume has evidently been thoroughly researched and carefully compiled. The stories are intriguing and are written in an informative and entertaining manner. The photographs are a great idea and allow us to feel a bit closer to where it all happened. It's ideal to dip in and out of. If you've always wondered about the darker history that may lie behind ordinary looking places in London, this book will certainly allow you to discover them, and to satisfy your appetite for real-life stories of murderous deeds. 

Published by Random House Books. 256 pages. 

Thank you to the publisher for kindly sending a copy of this book to read and review. 

You can visit the author's website here.

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