The Art of the English Murder
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“. . .a fascinating glimpse into the female detective’s development . . .”
In The Art of the English Murder Lucy Worsley takes the reader on an enjoyable journey through two centuries of crime writing. From the earliest broadsheet murder reports full of gruesome details recorded with relish, to the structured fiction of the modern Queens of Crime, Worsley explores the British public’s growing fascination with the ultimate crime and its consequences. She touches upon the inspiration fiction writers of the nineteenth century found in notorious cases of murder and how the bounds of Victorian society were pushed – sometimes well beyond the limits of the time – by writers in their search of a good story.
Most scandalous to Victorian minds was the female sleuth, a woman who transgressed the bounds of propriety by stepping into the sordid world of crime and its detection to bring justice to the perpetrator. The author offers a fascinating glimpse into the female detective’s development, the first appearing in the sadly overlooked The Adventures of Susan Hopley by Catherine Crowe, written in 1841. Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon were pioneers of the female detective as well, and their torch was carried into the modern era by Agatha Christie.
Worsley writes in an engaging style that conveys information without lecturing and leavens her work with a rich vein of humor. This book will appeal to anyone interested in crime fiction with plenty of juicy details to please the historian.
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews