Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane – Paul Thomas Murphy

Non-Fiction 4*s
Non-Fiction
4*s

This historical true crime happened in 1871 in the Greenwich are of Victorian London. Poor Jane Coulson had been found in a terrible state with her face bashed in on a footpath by a policeman following his beat in the area. The girl was at last unidentified so extreme were her facial injuries and in the week or so that it took to discover who she was a few other girls, sadly of disrepute, were named as the victim. Eventually the truth was discovered but Jane Coulson didn’t, couldn’t, survive her injuries.

This is a well-researched book of a crime that I hadn’t come across before and doesn’t just concentrate on the police’s investigation into the murder but also the three trials the suspect underwent with the accompanying views of both the media and the local population at the time. With a sense of the place impeccably reconstructed for the reader as well as a detailed look at the various stages of the investigation and the trial I was absorbed by this reconstruction. With enough doubt to whether the right person had been arrested from the outset the author has pieced together the details including those that didn’t appear at the trial. Of course, after such a long period of time, there is little hard evidence to re-examine but that didn’t stop the author applying principles known today that were not at this time, being used to make a reasonable assessment of the case.

The author also captures the characters who make up the background to the story. From the reluctant witness of the shop-keeper who was unable to identify the man who bought the hammer which was the alleged weapon to the righteous Mr Henry Pook who defended the alleged perpetrator Edmund Pook, no relative. Edmund Pook was supported by his father a grandly named Ebenezer Pook along with his brother and other family members. The victim, Jane Coulson had worked as a maid of all work for this middle-class family and as a result we get to see how the Victorian class system operated at that time. Maids of all work were by far the most common servants of the time with middle-class families keeping one to do long hours as a status symbol as much as anything. The Pooks were not so well-off that Jane even had a pokey attic for a room, she actually shared with the victim’s cousin!

All in all a fascinating and immensely readable account of the crime, its investigation both into the identity of the victim and the murderer, the trials that followed and just as intriguingly the reaction of the public both on the streets and through the media of the day. In some ways this reaction was split along class lines but not entirely which in itself was interesting.

In the end my conclusion ties in with the authors but read the book yourself, you may well think that another scenario is equally as likely as to who did kill Jane Coulson.

I’d like to thank the publishers Head of Zeus who allowed me to read an advance copy of this book. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

Published UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Head of Zeus
No of Pages 352
Genre: Historical True Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US – Not Available

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

Blurb

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER ONE
LET ME DIE

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!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 10)

Weekly Wrap Up

There was no weekly wrap up last week as I was celebrating my birthday in St Malo with friends, this beautiful French walled port city is just an hour away from Jersey by ferry and we managed to eat, drink, laugh and shop to our heart’s content.

St Malo Tourism

Due to lots of socialising and an insanely busy time at work, I haven’t really done an awful lot of reading in the last couple of weeks and looking ahead over the next couple of months, time is at a premium! Hey Ho! fortunately I still have some of my holiday reading reviews to post.

Last Week on the Blog

On Tuesday my post included an excerpt from The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, a story that seems to have echoes of real crime which will be published on 14 July 2016. This date seems to be incredibly popular, I have lots of books to review for that date (sadly it is unlikely impossible that I’m going to achieve this)

My review of Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant was posted on Wednesday, an author who has wowed me three times out of three with her unique psychological thrillers. This one was set in Greece and unusually narrated by a man.

Thursday saw me posting my review for the fifth of my 20 Books of Summer 2016 Challenge. It was the stunning non-fiction book The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins which follows the investigation and trial into said doctor who was accused of murdering his patients for legacies in their wills back in 1950 Eastbourne. Fascinating stuff!

On Friday I joined The Book Jotter in her Six in Six meme to showcase a selection of the books I’ve read over the first half of 2016. There were lots of categories to choose from and I managed to complete it without repeating any choices!

Yesterday’s review was from a book published a decade ago – easily as enjoyable as many of my highly starred newer reviews and so it seems a shame not to shout as loudly about these old treasures as the newer shinier ones! Click here to read my review of The Dead Hour by Denise Mina

Stacking the Shelves

Of course not reading very much and having no time doesn’t mean that I haven’t been acquiring new books.

From NetGalley I have one from one of my favourite authors Lisa Jewell, I Found You which I’m so delighted with I will be opening it very soon. I Found You will be published on 14 July 2016

I Found You

Blurb

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’
East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.
Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Drew has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel. NetGalley

I also have a copy of Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy, which will be published on 14 July 2016 by Head of Zeus.

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane

Blurb

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

I received two books for my birthday from my brother; Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Little Black Lies Sandra Block

Blurb

She helps people conquer their demons. But she has a few of her own…
In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives – a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother – Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother’s death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.
As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can’t remember just might kill her.
Little Black Lies is about madness and memory – and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. Goodreads

and a copy of Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun, another book about Florence Maybrick (and of course poison.) I sent him a text thanking him for the inspired book choice and stating that I was into poisoning at the moment to which I got a super fast response commenting on how lucky my OH is to have me. If I’m ever forced to go onto Mastermind I think dear Florence will be my specialist subject!

Did She Kill Him

Blurb

In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick.
‘The Maybrick Mystery’ had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence’s past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud’s.
Florence’s fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James’ own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise?
Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him? Goodreads

And… there have been a lot of sale books on Kindle which I have gallantly resisted but The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid was a temptation too far.

The Skeleton Road

Blurb

When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.
Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge — but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . . Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
We have progress!! Since my last post I have read just 4 books, gained 6 (I have an arc without details about a stalker too) so the total this week is now standing at 175 books!
88 physical books
68 e-books
19 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?