Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 19)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week my opener comes from Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A Victorian Murder Mystery Solved by Paul Thomas Murphy.

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane


A page-turning true-crime narrative forms a thrilling reconstruction of a brutal Victorian murder, in which Paul Thomas Murphy identifies, after 144 years, the killer responsible for the slaying of Jane Maria Clouson.
In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near Greenwich found a girl dying in the mud – her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull.
The girl was Maria Jane Clouson, a maid for the respectable Pook family, and who was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of the 20-year-old Edmund Pook, alleged father of the dead girl’s unborn child, were discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case.
Paul Thomas Murphy recreated the drama of an extraordinary murder case and conclusively identifies the killer’s true identity. NetGalley

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


He stumbled upon her at 4:15 on Wednesday morning, April 26, 1871, half an hour before the sun rose, just as definition and colour began to bleed into the amorphous black and grey. Donald Gunn, a police constable of R, or Greenwich Division of the London Metropolitan police, was at the extremity of his beat, which had taken him from Shooter’s Hill southwest through the smaller town of Eltham, and then northeast to this deserted road flanked by market gardens and bisected by the little rivulet-Kid Brook-that gave this road its name – Kidbrooke Lane. Kidbrooke Lane provided a direct route between the Kent countryside and the metropolis, but few carriages or wagons travelled that way, as it was muddy, rutted-nearly impassable. The lane’s adjoining footpath, however was drier, and during the day the route was well frequented by pedestrians, particularly in the evenings: then, the area around Kidbrooke Lane became a well-known haven for lovers, the surrounding fields offering the perfect space apart for lovemaking, just minutes from the bustle of southeast London, but a world away from the relentless attention of the city, and particularly from prying parental eyes.

This extract comes from a proof copy

So what do you think? Quite a long lead-in but I think it is giving us a very good picture of the place of the murder.

Please leave your thoughts and links in the envelope below!


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

19 thoughts on “First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 19)

  1. Humm. Just not sure. I’d have to keep reading a little more before deciding to stick with the book. But I agree, it’s a descriptive opener.


  2. That is, indeed, quite a lead-in, Cleo, but the topic’s really interesting. Sometimes true crime can be absolutely fascinating. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I look forward to your review.


  3. I really like the sound of this! I was a research assistant to someone studying Victorian crime and since then I’ve been slightly obsessed! I’ll be looking this one up on Netgalley, well, now… Can’t wait to see your review! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hope you have a great week!
    My Teasers
    Juli @ Universe in Words


    1. Oh Juli, I am jealous that sounds like my dream job! I do enjoy a well-researched true-crime book from the Victorian age and as a hint I turned the page last night, and I’m hooked. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving your link 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was worried from the opening paragraph that it would all be a bit too heavy but by the time I’d turned the first page I was hooked. I’m a huge fan of this era and to get the investigation and the trial together makes for fascinating reading.


  4. A Dickensian lead-in, so rather suitable for the type of novel. Plus, I used to live in that part of London – or rather, my wealthier relatives did, I lived in Catford, the poorer end. So it sounds very familiar (although by then it was anything but a village).


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