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A Very British Murder

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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 enthral us today. And this is a little bit before the Golden Age, but I also liked the discussion on Lady Audley’s Secret. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, puppet shows and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism.

Sayers, produced novels a bit like knitting: detailed, wonderfully plotted, full of social observation. If you took out a policy on your life, you were also unwittingly giving your family a financial motive to bump you off. He was even brought back from the dead for commercial reasons after his bored creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed him off.In 1849 the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria's lover and burying him under their kitchen floor, spurned what was alleged to be the authentic memoirs of Maria Manning. She discusses the Golden Age authors in some depth, giving almost mini-biographies of some of them, particularly Dorothy L Sayers. From a Regency serial killer to Agatha Christie, this is the story of how crime was turned into art. Two of my all- time favorite book series are British Mysteries- one historical and one set in present day.

It was not clear what each chapter was intended to deal with and subjects often seemed to reappear in the middle of a chapter that appeared to be about something else, connections were not made clear. At the time, the posh mansion, the closed circle of suspects, and the family’s scandals (Constance’s mother had died insane, her father then married the governess) gripped newspaper readers.While the information presented wasn't new to me, I appreciated the excellent organization and thoroughness of Worsley's investigation.

One is George Orwell, and it’s his 1946 essay “Decline of the English Murder” that Worsley kicks off with. Lucy Worsley is one of my favourite historians, she is always so enthusiastic and engaging, with a wonderful sense of humour and great insight.She has presented numerous television series, including Harlots, Housewives and Heroines for BBC4 and If Walls Could Talk for BBC1, for which she also wrote an accompanying book. Worsley describes the various mystery authors who arose in the 19th century, the depiction of policing (which early on was slipshod), the rise of the detective, newly discovered scientific means of investigating and solving a crime or murder and discusses how authors created stories that encapsulated the horror, the thrill and finally the revealing of the culprit.

I admittedly have not watched the television show that this is accompanies but I may have to rectify that. Lucy Worsley's A Very British Murder is an incredible insight into the British people's obsession with the macabre, and it held my attention throughout. This is a book that doesn't require you to read from cover to cover but can dip in and out of at your convenience. But when we put the work into context, that Strachey was part of the Bloomsbery set, we can see how this might be an unbalanced picture of the Victorian era.In addition, she talks about the founding of the organized police force, detective work, ‘Penny Bloods’ (the precursor to crime fiction), poisonings, and forensic science. One reason for this, as observed by George Orwell in his 1946 essay ‘The Decline of the English Murder’, was the appetite for more gritty, or we might say more brutish, masochistic stories featuring gangsters, rape and much more as favoured by the new wave of American crime novelists. I chose to start the year with a book I bought myself for Christmas; A Very British Murder by Lucy Worsley. Some of the material is probably familiar for the aficionado, but it will still be fun to revisit it.

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