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The Poisoner

The Poisoner [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Bates
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Meticulously researched, cleverly written and, even better, a wonderfully entertaining read' -- Judith Flanders, author of The Invention of Murder

'A fascinating retelling. Stephen Bates returns to a crime that shocked the Victorian nation and created the blackest of myths' -- Peter Moore, author of Damn His Blood

'Palmer the Poisoner - mass murderer or victim of a gross miscarriage of justice? Stephen Bates is to be congratulated for this enthralling account of one of the great Victorian murder trials. Compulsively readable, replete with gruesome detail and Dickensian characters ... I couldn't put it down!' ---- Catharine Arnold, author of Underworld London

Product Description

In 1856, a baying crowd of over 30,000 people gathered outside Stafford prison to watch the execution of a village doctor from Staffordshire. One of the last people to be publicly hanged, the 'Rugely Poisoner', the 'Prince of Poisoners', 'The greatest villain who ever stood trial at the Old Bailey,' as Charles Dickens described him, Dr William Palmer was convicted in 1856 of murdering his best friend, but was suspected of poisoning more than a dozen other people, including his wife, children, brother and mother-in-law – cashing in on their life insurance to fund his monstrously indebted gambling habit.

Highlighting Palmer's particularly gruesome penchant for strychnine, his trial made news across Europe: the most memorable in fifty years, according to the Old Bailey's presiding Lord Chief Justice. He was a new kind of murderer – respectable, middle class, personable, and consequently more terrifying – and he became Britain's most infamous figure until the arrival of Jack the Ripper.

The first widely available account of one of the most notorious, yet lesser-known, mass-murderers in British history, The Poisoner takes a fresh look at Palmer's life and disputed crimes, ultimately asking 'just how evil was this man?' With previously undiscovered letters from Palmer and new forensic examination of his victims, Stephen Bates presents not only an astonishing and controversial revision of Palmer's entire story, but takes the reader into the very psyche of a killer.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1655 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Duckworth Overlook (19 Jun 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KYQ3CA0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #97,976 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
On 14 June 1856 Dr William Palmer, the infamous Rugeley poisoner, was hanged for the wilful murder of John Parsons Cook, before a crowd of over 30,000 people. One of the most sensational cases of the Victorian era has now been re-investigated through the gripping narrative of Stephen Bates’s excellent book.

From the compelling opening scenes of the execution and throughout the re-creation of the ‘crime of the century’, Stephen Bates explores the truth behind the legendary, ‘Prince of Poisoners’. Through his compelling narrative he brings Dr Palmer back to life as he sheds new light on this intriguing case and the events that led to Palmer's conviction. Meticulously researched and cleverly reconstructed, 'The Poisoner' reveals the mind of the killer and examines the context in which he committed his nefarious acts. The gruesome detail and graphic accounts are enhanced by contemporary accounts and quotes from public figures such as Charles Dickens. Along with Palmer, the other characters in this powerful drama are placed under the spotlight, as well as previously unpublished material, as the author exposes the truth of this heinous crime.

Acclaimed journalist Stephen Bates uses his considerable expertise and experience to present this fascinating case in a highly readable and well-written narrative. Hidden secrets emerge from Palmer’s dark backstory and rise to the surface as the plot unfolds, bearing all the hallmarks of classic Victorian crime stories. Set in the exciting and, often corrupt world of horse racing, it gives the reader a tantalising glimpse into mid-nineteenth century life. The themes explored through the case include the power of the press, the development of forensic science and the mid-century debate on capital punishment.

I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Poisoner' and I would highly recommend it for all lovers of Victorian true crime.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Victorians' Most Infamous Murderer? 5 Nov 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Victorian true-crime writing at its best. The author presents a very well balanced account, in which he weighs up the likelihood of Palmer being guilty of the crime he was charged with, as well as several other people he is believed to have murdered. The research is excellent, and the reader also gets a good picture of what life was like in the little town of Rugeley in Staffordshire at the time, as well as what has happened to the key locations (Palmer's house, the pub where the victim died). The author considers the evidence against Palmer, and whether this trial was fair, in terms of he pre-trial publicity and the way the Lord Chief Justice conducted the trial. The story starts at the end - Palmer's hanging, so you know the result from the outset; but that does not in any way detract - most people knew that he was hanged anyway - and it gives the author the opportunity from there to go back and look at the events that led up to the victim'so death and to put it into the context of the other deaths surrounding Palmer, several of which he is believed to have brought about with his poisons. An excellent book, highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Life on a Poisoner 18 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very, very interesting and well written. Well recommended.
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Fairly hard going not helped by the fact it started with Palmer's execution! Interesting account of the way
"forensic" data was handled then as well as the structure of the trial.
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