North Soho 999: A True Story of Gun-crime in 1940s London Paperback – 3 May 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
It was this case, more than any other, which brought Detective Superintendent Bob Fabian (of the Yard) to the publics attention; as a result, Fabian wrote the first of three books, of which the first, Fabian of the Yard was a best-seller, launched the television series of the same name and inspired the classic film, The Blue Lamp.
It is difficult to know how Mr. Willetts could have probed any deeper to have made this exciting book any more authentic; I don't believe he could.
A superb book.
I am pleased to report it’s up to the same level of excellence as the other books by Paul Willetts. His customary meticulous research inform a detailed and well written account of the murder of Alec de Antiquis, a 'have-a-go hero’ who tried to obstruct a smash-and-grab gang who had just robbed a jewellers in London’s Charlotte Street on April 29 1947. This murder was symptomatic of a surge in gun crime in London after World War Two (something similar also happened after World War One).
As with the other books by Paul Willetts, where "North Soho 999: A True Story of Gangs and Gun-Crime in 1940s London” scores highly is in the novelistic writing style and eye for detail, both of which bring post-war London vividly to life. It’s a world of bomb sites, rationing, smoke-filled pubs, grasses, violence, prostitution, and teenage gun crime. In London 10,300 people between the ages of 14 and 20 were, by 1947, convicted members of criminal gangs. Trying to reassure a jittery public, the police were required to find and convict those responsible for violent crime, with varying degrees of success.Read more ›
A story of another time in every respect - the struggling post war London environment is recreated in great detail with insights into how the police and the underworld each operated then, as society faced higher levels of crime than had been seen for many years. The key story is of a bungled jewellery shop robbery in 1947 where a "have a go" passer by was shot and killed. That main story is interwoven with other contemporary stories including especially the lives of public hangman Albert Pierrepoint and the lead investigator "Fabian of the Yard", plus the role of crime reporters for newspapers as the main media people relied on for news, however outlandish its premise was.
Around the main event what marks this book out is the great detail on police procedure and how murder investigations were carried out at that time. Lacking the high tech forensics and IT and communications now seen, the police were reliant on a few key experts available to them (post-mortem pathologists and gun experts) and intensive use of manpower to carry out any investigation, given a very paper based records approach. The ability to throw men at the problem with the case taking twenty days till the key criminals were charged shows a very different approach taken to tackling crime currently.Read more ›