Published on September 11th, 20130
A Very British Murder: The Story of a National Obsession by Lucy Worsley
Blurb: Murder – a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very British obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?
In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nation-wide panic in the early nineteenth century, and 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. 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. At a point during the birth of modern Britain, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.
A Very British Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime, and a riveting investigation into the British soul by one of our finest historians.
(BBC Books, 2013)
Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times
“Although short, Worsley’s book covers a great deal of ground; even if this means that it tends at times to skim over the surface of its subject, it provides an excellent overview of how the consumption of crime became a dominant part of our cultural landscape.”
Rebecca Armstrong, The Independent
“Worsley’s book is stuffed with interesting insights into our love of crime, although sometimes the pacing can be a little uneven, no doubt because of its inception as a television programme. A chapter each on Christie and Sayers, but none on Marsh, seems slightly strange. However, as a guilty pleasure or a pleasant pastime, murder removed from reality still thrills us (one in three books sold today is a crime novel), and Worsley captures this bloody love affair very well.”