BLURB: “Ever since the Ratcliffe Highway Murders caused a nationwide panic in Regency England, the British have taken an almost ghoulish pleasure in ‘a good murder’. This fascination helped create a whole new world of entertainment, inspiring novels, plays and films, puppet shows, paintings and true-crime journalism – as well as an army of fictional detectives who still enthrall us today. A Very British Murder is Lucy Worsley’s captivating account of this curious national obsession. It is a tale of dark deeds and guilty pleasures, a riveting investigation into the British soul by one of our finest historians.”
REVIEW: This book is a fascinating exploration of how an obsession with murder has become ingrained into British culture, and takes various famous murder cases from the nineteenth century onwards to illustrate how the nation’s relationship with these cases began to develop and expand as time went on. With each new, sensational murder people found new – and often increasingly disturbing – ways of dissecting the event; grisly artefacts from murders were exhibited for people to view, such as part of the scalp of the murderer William Corder, which is still on display in the Moyse’s Hall Museum today. Puppet shows, songs and plays were performed in order to both dramatise and popularise the most horrific of the tales, such as that of Maria Marten, who was buried under the floor of the Red Barn. Worsley dissects each of these cases and the interest they incurred in great detail, and looks at how their legacies have stayed with us even today in the form of fictional detectives like Sherlock Holmes and the works of Agatha Christie. This book is absolutely fascinating; the murder cases themselves are just as interesting to modern readers as they were at the time, and the way they have impacted our current culture is also something that I had not expected to discover. I was gripped from the very beginning of this novel, which read almost like a detective story in itself – it is a story of a somewhat shameful section of the British consciousness, a part of us that has survived across centuries and that remains just as powerful in the modern day as it did in the Victorian age.