Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read

The Ripper of Waterloo Road – Jan Bondeson #20booksofsummer


In 1838 a high-class prostitute, Eliza Grimwood, took a French-speaking gentleman home to her shared lodgings. The following morning Eliza was found with her throat cut and her abdomen slashed. Her fellow housemates, who included her boyfriend William Hubbard had not heard a sound except a single yap from her pet dog.

Jon Bondeson is a crime historian with more than twenty books to his name and he starts by setting the stage, describing London at the early time of Queen Victoria’s reign. He gives special attention to the Waterloo Bridge and the perception of prostitute demonstrating the prurient interest from the public and the different classes of ‘working women.’ We also get a whistle-stop tour of the most notable murder of the time including the Ratcliffe murder and that of Hannah Brown by James Greenacre and Sarah Gale. This is a book packed full of information with references to sources and lots of pictures of the subjects and not confined to those in the penny dreadfuls of the time. In fact the illustrations that are present on many of the pages bring to life the points the author is making with perfect placement, something I much prefer to those books that confine these to the centre pages.

As Eliza and the mysterious French speaker had arranged to meet at The Strand we are treated to some of the plays that may have been showing on that fateful night of Friday 26 May 1838, sadly it is not possible to know what was on the bill of this small but packed theatre that night. Eliza and her ‘guest’ alighted a Hansom cab which took them back to Waterloo Road but who the man was has never quite been established.

Inspector Charles Frederick Field was called to the scene, a former actor he had been one of the first officers of the New Police when it formed in 1829. Jon Bondeson takes a pause to enlighten his readers to other crimes that this, probably the best-known Policeman in London encountered over the course of his career. There is no doubt that life in the force at that time was hard but the crime were not investigated in quite the isolation as I perhaps thought. First came the inquest.


Waterloo Road – 3 June 1838

In true melodramatic fashion the inquest was given the run-around by local characters either not giving the information they held or alternatively throwing suspicion in all direction so that even the most trivial of facts became obscured. All of which kept the news flowing with Charles Dickens taking such a keen interest Nancy of Oliver Twist fame is believed to have been inspired by poor Eliza Grimwood.

Of course a true-crime begs to be solved even all these years later and with the help of Inspector Field’s diary, which is perfectly preserved, along with newspaper articles and other contemporary offerings, Jon Bondeson is sure he has found the culprit and it seems to me that he provides a very compelling argument for his case. Of course as in the case with all these types of crime, despite even the most in-depth, and the author studied this crime over a decade prior to this book being written, can’t ever give us a conclusive answer and sadly no court of law will pronounce its judgement.

For lovers of Victorian true crime The Ripper of Waterloo Road gives a comprehensive examination not only of the crimes committed but wider commentary on the life and times without allowing itself to get into too wide a discourse which would make the book far too unwieldy.

The Ripper of Waterloo Road was my twelfth read in my 20 Books of Summer 2017 Challenge.

First Published UK: 13 January 2017
Publisher: The History Press
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Non-Fiction – True Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US 

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017

20 Books of Summer 2017 – Part 2 #20booksofsummer

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2017 and running until 3 September 2017, and once again I’ve decided to join her.

My aim this year was to read all twenty books in the allotted time span but the plan has been somewhat disrupted, however despite only posting reviews for books 1 – 5 of the challenge (you can see the original list the master page here) I have actually finished reading the first set of 10 with reviews to follow,  and so it’s time to choose the next set in the hope I will magically get these read before the cut-off date!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Ripper of Waterloo Road by Jan Bondeson

The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe

Dear Mr M by Herman Koch

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Stranger in the House by Julie Summers

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson

The Summer House by Santa Montefiore

The Judges Wife by Ann O’Loughlin

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie

My original second list looked a wee bit on the bleak side so I chose some cheerier books to break it up but never fear there is plenty of murder to get me through August!

I will continue to tweet my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have a big pile of books to read!

Any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 22)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

Well after my poor reviewing total last week I’ve managed to post four reviews over the last seven days which means I’m now nearly up to date, well apart from those reviews that are being kept back for various reasons…

On Monday I proudly posted my second five star review of the year for The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott which is my favourite of this accomplished series so far. Set in a building renovated from an old Workhouse when teenage Scarlett hears crying she is compelled to investigate…

My excerpt for my Tuesday post was from Julia Crouch’s latest novel, Her Husband’s Lover .

On Wednesday my This Week in Books post proclaimed that I was reading my third of my own books for the Mount TBR challenge, Martin Edwards’  The Cipher Garden which means that I’m bang on target. I’m also thoroughly enjoying choosing from my TBR depending on my mood at the time, it is refreshing.

Next was the Blog Tour for Relativity by Antonia Hayes which used physics metaphors in a surprisingly appealing novel about a young boy who had suffered a brain injury.

Friday had me reviewing the first of those Mount TBR books, Redemption (aka The Murder at the Vicarage) by Jill McGown, the second in the Lloyd and Hill series, one that I loved when they were newly published in the 80s to the early 2000s.

My fourth review for the week was Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton which will be published in March – a cleverly layered novel with a darkness at its heart.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the amazing Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which I loved and read with anguish as the young Agnes Magnúsdóttir met her fate despite my desperate willing that history could be altered to give her a better ending. I don’t think I will ever forget the power of this book, so if like me, you left this one languishing on the TBR, dig it out!
You can read my full review here

Buriel Rites


Northern Iceland, 1829.
A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover.
A family forced to take her in.
A priest tasked with absolving her.
But all is not as it seems, and time is running out:
winter is coming, and with it the execution date.
Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

Having laughed over and loved Jane Fallon’s Getting Rid of Matthew and Got You Back reads of a few years back, I didn’t take to her next couple of books, but then around the blogosphere were reviews for her latest book My Sweet Revenge and I couldn’t resist requesting this one from NetGalley. Not big and not clever as the review slots are fully booked for the first quarter of the year… but I don’t read much ‘lighter’ fiction so this one is for emergencies!



I want to make my husband fall back in love with me. Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’. I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair. She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever. Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it? NetGalley

I was sent a copy of The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett by the lovely publishers Penguin Random House, sadly I will upset many of you as I only recently read The Chemistry of Death which is book one in the David Hunter series, and this is… book five! Despite what Amazon is showing the kindle version will be published on



It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter’s help with the recovery and identification . . .

Because they would like it to be that of Leo Villiers, the 31 year-old son of a prominent local family who went missing weeks ago, and they are under pressure to close the case. Villiers was supposed to have been having an affair with a married woman, Emma Derby. She too is missing, and the belief is that the young man disposed of his lover, and then killed himself. If only it was so straightforward.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable. Then further remains are found – and suddenly these remote wetlands are giving up yet more grisly secrets. As Hunter is slowly but surely drawn into a toxic mire of family secrets and resentments, local lies and deception, he finds himself unable, or perhaps unwilling, to escape even though he knows that the real threat comes from the living, not the dead. Amazon

And lastly I have bought one of the books from my wishlist with my Christmas Amazon Voucher: The Ripper of Waterloo Road: The Murder of Eliza Grimwood in 1838 by Jan Bondeson was published on 13 January 2017 and has finally winged its way to the Channel Islands – a sneaky peak inside tells me I’m really going to love this piece of non-fiction Victorian crime.



When Jack the Ripper first terrorized the streets of London, the Daily Telegraph reported that his crimes were as ghastly as those committed by Eliza Grimwood’s murderer.
Grimwood’s is arguably the most infamous and brutal of all 19th-century murders. She was a high-class prostitute, and on 26 May 1838 she brought a client back home with her. The morning after, she was found with her throat cut and her abdomen viciously ‘ripped’. The client was nowhere to be seen.
The convoluted murder investigation, with suspects ranging from an alcoholic bricklayer to a royal duke, was followed by the Londoners with great interest, including Charles Dickens, who based Nancy’s death in Oliver Twist on Grimwood’s. Indeed, there was much dismay when the murder remained unsolved.
Jan Bondeson links this murder with a series of other opportunist early Victorian slayings, and, in putting forward a credible new suspect, concludes that the Ripper of Waterloo Road was, in fact, a serial killer. Amazon

And finally my Put A Book on the Map project has been steaming ahead behind the scenes. One of the spots has been filled with the pairing of the lovely author Alison Baillie with supportive blogger Joanne from Portebello Book Blog to put her book Sewing The Shadows Together which is partially set in Portebello, a coastal suburb of Edinburgh.

I had Alison’s book on the wishlist and despite the fact that this project wasn’t designed to add even more books to the TBR, when I was preparing my spreadsheet and looking at the synopsis, reviews around the blog etc, I simply couldn’t resist any longer.



Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us? Amazon

What have you found to read this week – do share!


Since my last post I’ve read just 2 books but gained a grand total of 4 new ones making the grand total of 189

Physical Books – 107
Kindle Books – 69
NetGalley Books – 13