on 14 April 2009
The writer gives summaries of a large number of London murders from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, so this is a very useful book for anyone wanting an overview. It is well indexed and organised by district. Well known cases such as that of Crippen, the Ripper, the Thames Nudes and Christie are all included as are less well known, but no less brutal ones, such as the murder and dissection of Julia Thomson in Richmond in 1879. There are many sensible opinions, such as over the identity of the Ripper (although Kosminiski is hinted at, that is as far as it gets).
However, there are a few problems. Firstly, the author never states what he means by London - we have a couple of cases in Ealing, which was in Middlesex up to 1965, but murders in other parts of Middlesex, now London, are excluded. Nor do we learn what his selection criteria is - the murder of Louisa Steele on Blackheath is excluded, as are many others.
There are also errors of fact. Vera Page was 10 when murdered, not 11, Elizabeth Figg was killed in 1959, not 1963.
Furthermore, the security guard accused of the Nudes murders was actually in Scotland at the time of one killing, yet he is stated here as being the killer - not possible, I fear. Whether Christie did kill Beryl and Geraldine is a much argued point, but here only Kennedy's well known - but far from conclusive - version is given.
Although a bibliography is given, it might have been useful to mention the best source of material for criminal history in London - the Met files at the National Archives.