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The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians…

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and… (original 2011; edition 2014)

by Judith Flanders (Author)

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6301624,397 (3.68)45
In this exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders explores some of the most gripping cases that fascinated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction. She 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.… (more)
Title:The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime
Authors:Judith Flanders (Author)
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2014), Edition: First, 576 pages

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The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders (2011)


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A bit disorganized, but it's a good complement to the author's book about Victorian London. ( )
  Westwest | Oct 31, 2019 |
In this exploration of murder in the nineteenth century, Judith Flanders explores some of the most gripping cases that fascinated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction. SOFT
  JRCornell | Jan 30, 2019 |
Last night I finished reading "The Invention of Murder--How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime" by Judith Flanders.

I enjoyed it, though it wasn't what I thought it was when I first picked it up. It's really a scholarly review of various murders which took place during the Victorian age and how those were reflected in books, newspapers, plays and music. It was a bit dry in places, but very well researched and for the most part, incredibly interesting. It runs around 500 pages and since it reads like a research paper, unless you have a deep interest in the topic, it might not be for you.

I had initially picked the book up as research material for my own novel which is set during this time period. Toward this end, it was helpful. Although she concentrated on crime in Europe and my novel is set in the US, I still learned quite a bit from it and was also given ideas about how to approach certain aspects as well as additions to my reading list.

My biggest beef with it was that the author jumped around throughout the period within the different sections of the book as it was organized by types of crime instead of chronologically. That made for some disorientation while reading because in a single page, she could jump from 1814 (which wasn't really part of the Victorian age since that didn't begin until 1837, so I was confused as to why it was included in the book) to 1888 and back again.

Despite that though, there were a lot of interesting bits that I didn't know. For example, the letters that Jack the Ripper supposedly sent to the police are thought to have been written by journalists and not the murderer. I had no idea. It was also interesting to me to see the parallels between Victorian news coverage and our own time. Overall, it was really a fascinating read. ( )
1 vote Melynn1104 | Jun 28, 2017 |
In The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime, Judith Flanders investigates the phenomena of murder and crime in the Victorian era via landmark murder cases, trials, publications, and modern adaptations. Judith Flanders looks at more than 20 murder cases, from poisoners to Jack the Ripper. Flanders covers the establishment of a detective arm of the police force, scientific advances in forensic science and the macabre reactions to the murders in the form of theatrical performances, fiction novels, cheap narratives also known as “penny dreadfuls”, Madame Tussaud’s waxworks and in the newspapers of the day. Flanders describes the Victorian public as the creators of “murder- sightseeing” taking a macabre fascination in viewing crime scenes, hangings and court trials.

Flanders adopts a thematic approach to each type of murderer. Chapters entitled, “Trial by Newspaper,” “Entertaining Murder,” “Panic,” and “Science, Technology, and the Law,” allow Flanders to approach the era from a many angles that allow the reader a wide-ranging understanding of this multilayered topic.

Flanders’s The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime is an achievement of research and historical investigation. Flanders makes strenuous efforts to be as thorough as possible while crafting intriguing stories to keep her readers continuously engaged. Her text keeps the reader intrigued using incredible research into the crimes themselves, keeping the historical and modern relevance intact. This is far from a “dry” book.

An entertaining, informative, yet gruesome book. One to read. ( )
  Arkrayder | Aug 8, 2016 |
This is a DNF for me. I have tried to read this all month, & I just can't give it any more time. It's too dry; it's too detailed; it gets lost in its labyrinth of facts. It was also full of possibility, which kept me reading. But it's not enough. ( )
1 vote LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
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'We are a trading community - a commercial people. Murder is, doubtless, a very shocking offence; nevertheless, as what is done is not to be undone, let us make our money out of it.'
'Blood', Punch, 1842
For Susan and Ellen
without whom...
First words
'Pleasant it is, no doubt, to drink tea with you sweetheart, but most disagreeable to find her bubbling in the tea-urn.'
Up close and doun the stair, / But and ben wi' Burke and Hare. / Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief, / Knox the boy that buys the beef.
...So the Clerk and the wife, they each took a knife, / And the nippers that nipp'd the loaf sugar for tea; / With the edges and points they severed the joints / At the clavicle, elbow, hip, ankle, and knee. / Thus, limb from limb they dismember'd him / So entirely, that e'en when they came to his wrists, / With those great sugar nippers they nipp'd off his 'flippers' / As the Clerk, very flippantly, termed his fists. / ...They determined to throw it where no one could know it, / Down the well, - and the limbs in some different place. / ...They contrived to pack up the trunk in a sack, / Which they hid in an osier-bed outside the town, / The Clerk bearing arms, legs, and all on his back, / As that vile Mr. Greenacre served Mrs. Brown...
What a specimen would it be for some future historian of English civilization, of English humanity...a girl of 20, driven nearly to insanity by the appalling prospect of a violent death to one so young and so weak...shrieking and desperate...while the representative of civilized justice and the minister of a Christian creed looked on at the legal murder... - Daily News, 1849
When the sun rose brightly...it gilded thousands upon thousands of upturned faces, so inexpressibly odious in their brutal mirth or callousness, that a man had cause to feel ashamed of the shape he wore, and to shrink from himself, as fashioned in the image of the Devil. When the two miserable creatures who attracted all this ghastly sight about them were turned quivering into the air, there was no more emotion, no more pity, no more thought that two immortal souls had gone to judgment, no more restraint in any of the previous obscenities, than if the name of Christ had never been heard in this world, and there was no belief among men but that they perished like the beasts. - Charles Dickins
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