I thought it might be useful to detail the books and publications I’ve read this month, for anyone who fancies a bit of crime reading! Thanks to train journeys and commissions, I’ve been able to read a few fascinating true crime books in the last few weeks, covering both UK and US crimes.
I reviewed this book elsewhere on this site (see review here), but in short, this is a detailed and imaginative retelling of the life of Edith Thompson, and the murder that saw her hanged in the early 1920s. You really get a feel for the claustrophobia both of women’s lives and of outer London suburbia, and how Edith’s attempts to overcome this through her imagination and her writing later helped convict her.
It’s good to see a female presented in such a three-dimensional way here.
I was asked to review this by Real Crime magazine, so you’ll have to read that to find out exactly what I thought!
Although there are flaws in the writing, it is the story of an undoubtedly fascinating woman – Grace Humiston, a lawyer turned investigator working in New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At its heart is the shocking murder of a young woman, and how Grace helped to solve the case.
This is an American classic, retelling the case of Candy Montgomery, who killed her fellow churchgoer Betty Gore in rural Texas in 1980. Although it is clear from the start who the murderer is, the authors then go back in time to show how both women were not as they seemed, building a good psychological portrait of Candy whilst never leaving you sure about whether that psychological background was really to blame for the violence she later showed. The authors interviewed most of the people involved in this case, and the level of detail is impressive.
This is one of BBC History’s bookazines – a collection of articles commissioned mainly from academics working in the history of crime (as well as the ubiquitous Lucy Worsley – I’d rather have seen Judith Flanders featured instead, but that’s a different story… *coughs*). Some at least I remember seeing in the magazine before, so I’m not sure how many have been newly commissioned for this, and how many have been repurposed.
There are a couple of pieces by Alyson Brown and Lizzie Seal, both of whose research I always find interesting (and Alyson’s also in the current issue of BBC History magazine as well), and others by Clive Emsley, Oxford Brookes‘ own David Nash and Anne-Marie Kilday, and my former PhD supervisor Drew Gray. Also well worth reading for the interview with Kate Summerscale on Victorian matricide (her book, The Wicked Boy, is highly recommended, too).
If you’ve recently read a new true crime or crime history book (or you’ve published one) and you think I should be reading and reviewing it, do let me know via the contacts form. I’m always keen to get my fix of the latest books and research.