The Invention Of Murder: How The Victorians Revelled In Death And Detection And Created Modern Crime
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date:
- 01 September 2011
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It is surprising how few murders there were in the Victorian Age. We have a picture in our minds of a violent, largely uncaring society. Of course, our views are driven by exposure to the sensationalists of the times - Dickens, Conan Doyle and many others - all of whom had an interest in portraying the seamiest side of life. Victorians were just like us; they had a prurient interest in murders, especially where class and money were involved.As technology became more efficient, more widespread and more affordable through the 19th century the reporting of murder and the interests of the public became more sophisticated. We see the birth and early steps of the forensic sciences as tools to assist in the prosecution of murder. We see the growth of detection as a specific set of scientific skills in tracking down murderers.Judith Flanders describes and tracks all this with wit and with a strong grasp of the historical detail. She is a social historian of the first order, widely read and knowledgeable across a wide and surprising spectrum of cultural tropes. ‘The Invention of Murder’ uses the most widely known and discussed crimes of their day to show how the whole of society moved from a parochial, local view without much interest beyond the village to a more worldly, wider understanding of how different people from different places and classes interacted.This is a wonderful book full of insights and interesting tidbits of long forgotten people, places and times. I highly recommend it.
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