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Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing Paperback – 30 Apr 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; Reprint edition (30 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1468300563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468300567
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 998,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Colquhoun's work is an exquisite cautionary tale, as valuable today as it is telling of then." --"Salon"
"A suspenseful, well-paced account of a baffling mystery." --"Washington Post"
"Ms. Colquhoun's meticulously researched true-crime account, first published in England, is a tick-tock of the arrest and trial of a German tailor following a chase across the Atlantic its final revelation is a showstopper." --"New York Times"
"Colquhoun's narrative will appeal to British, rail, and legal historians. She does an excellent job of describing the case and the times. Highly recommended." --"Library Journal""

About the Author

Kate Colquhoun is the author of "The Busiest Man in England" and "Taste." In addition to writing for several newspapers and magazines, she appears regularly on radio and television. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: The Overlook Press, 11/2011
ORIGINAL PUB: Little, Brown, 5/2011 as Mr. Briggs’ Hat
GENRE: Nonfiction/Biography/Historical true crime

This was a very detailed, well researched and descriptive account of the crime but not as exciting as I was expecting. That’s not the authors fault, though. When I get a book that sounds so interesting I build it up so big in my head, telling myself it’s going to be the greatest book ever, and I end up let down.

I just wish there had been sketches of the key players in the case, especially of the killer, German immigrant Franz Müller. He’s described as being twenty-three, not very tall, thin, fair-skinned, prominent cheekbones, small gray eyes, and wavy dark blond hair with eyebrows so light you can barely see them.

I like that the author hypothesized what probably went down in the carriage that night, saying Franz likely didn’t even know he’d murdered Thomas in a botched robbery. What she didn’t say is how he got out of a moving train without any injuries.

The book is 339 pages but the actual story is only 282 pages. There’s an extensive bibliography as well as a very helpful section in the back that’s got the names of all the people mentioned in the book and who they were/what role they played in the trial.

There’s a mediocre hour long BBC documentary about this from 2013 called Murder on the Victorian Railway that you can watch.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Tale Of High Technology And Low Crime 15 May 2012
By John D. Cofield - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1864 Britain was a bustling, modern country enamored of the railroad lines which crisscrossed the kingdom. As is so often the case, technological advances had sprinted far ahead of other considerations such as the safety of those who used them. Locomotives often exploded and wrecks were common, and even a journey that did not end catastrophically was fraught with peril because there was no way to communicate between passenger compartments, meaning that you could easily be trapped for minutes or even hours with a robber, rapist, or murderer and have no way to summon help. In July 1864 Thomas Briggs, a wealthy banker travelling home to his family in a London suburb, was set upon and beaten so savagely in his compartment that he died without regaining consciousness. After weeks of investigation, egged on by popular newspapers and public outrage, a suspect was identified. Young Franz Muller, a German immigrant who had behaved suspiciously and who seemed to possess some of Briggs' belongings, was then on his way to America on board a slow sailing ship. Police were sent to arrest and detain Muller and bring him back to London for trial. The public sensation increased during Muller's trial, conviction, and subsequent execution, but there were also many who were troubled by the rush to judgement based on purely circumstantial evidence and by the circus like atmosphere of public executions.

Kate Colquhoun has produced an excellent history of this dramatic crime and its aftermath which ably demonstrates how the technological changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution: railroads, telegraphs, etc., were important factors. The atmosphere and attitudes of 1860s London and New York is well described, as are the changes that occurred after Muller's execution, which was one of the last to take place publicly.

This is a well written, engrossing drama which has all the elements of a detective story (which were just becoming popular). It is also a fine example of social history at its best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 18 July 2014
By S. Ellingsworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a murder where you "find who dunnit" but not why or precisely how it was carried off.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story line 13 July 2016
By Gus Bailey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This holds my attention. Great word phrasings. Can't wait to finish it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars OK 7 Feb. 2014
By cooperkat10 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a bit boring due to the minutia and repetitive narration. It was well-researched, but did not hold my interest.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice history lesson 30 Sept. 2016
By Dove' - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good grief good drama good history
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