On 7 November 1974, a nanny named Sandra Rivett was bludgeoned to death in a Belgravia basement. A second woman, Veronica, Countess of Lucan, was also attacked. The man named in court as perpetrator of these crimes, Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, disappeared in the early hours of the following morning. The case, solved in the eyes of the law, has retained its fascination ever since.
Laura Thompson narrates the story that led up to that cataclysmic event and reexamines the possible truths behind one of postwar Britain’s most notorious murders.
©2015 Laura Thompson (P)2015 Oakhill Publishing
"Gripping...an exceptionally thorough examination." (Daily Mail)
"Sensational...the most minutely researched and brilliantly told account ever." (Mail on Sunday)
"Tantalises with fresh evidence." (The Daily Telegraph)
"A compelling new examination of the crime and a brilliant detective mind...fascinating.... Thompson gives us a tantalising range of alternative scenarios in this superb anatomy of a murder." (Independent)
"This gripping read is part social history, part detective story...fascinating." (Bella)
"Thompson delivers the goods: a compelling narrative, hypotheses based on evidence and a possible solution. But she goes further, putting the murder in the telling context of British aristocracy and social attitudes towards it." (The Times)
"Thompson is a fine writer and one can't help admiring the way she breathes new life into an intriguing tale." (Literary Review)
"[Laura Thompson] gets her teeth into the case, drawing on Lucan's friends the Shand-Kydds, finding a new source in an anonymous Lucan schoolfriend, and finally producing a narrative which is sympathetic to Lucan, but less so to his wife." (Times Literary Supplement)
"Thompson re-examines a tantalizingly ambiguous crime, delving deep into a complicated story and emerging with a gripping narrative that offers a fresh perspective and new solutions to one of the most infamous cases of the 20th century." (Good Book Guide)
Avid reader of history, biography, and true crime.
The first half of this book nearly drove me crazy with irrelevant references to ancient cases and details of former Lords Lucan and their Ladies and futile attempts to identify characteristics common across the Lucan generations. Not only did I feel that this material was irrelevant, it jumped from time period to time period and back again – it might have been less irritating if it had been presented chronologically. I appreciate that the author chose to place the Lucan story within a class context and to compare outcomes for ‘upper class’ murderers and outcomes for those from the ‘lower orders’, but for me this was a bit of a stretch which added nothing to the story and was simply a ploy to differentiate it from other Lucan books.
In the second half the book becomes a ‘page-turner’, excelling as a comprehensive examination of the minutiae of the case, as well as a dissection of the various theories it has attracted over the years. Thompson rightly leaves open the question of the murderer’s identity because for every hypothesis there are facts which fit and others which (frustratingly) don’t. Given the association between addictive gambling and clinical depression, I was surprised that Thompson did not put more weight on Lucan’s gambling addiction and consequent huge debts as a possible motive for suicide/disappearing. It appears that the police investigation followed one line only, that Lucan had done it, and discounted or ignored any evidence which didn’t support that conclusion. In the end the reader is left to wonder how a man can disappear without trace, and to hope that incontrovertible evidence as to his fate will be found or someone who knows the truth will tell all.
Competent narration, as always, by Anna Bentinck (although I sometimes felt that her tone was more suited to a romance or a bedtime story than to examination of a hard-hitting murder.)
15 hours that could be cut in half. Very repetitive making it boring towards the end.
Narrator very well spoken but no need to change voice when quoting someone.
"Excellent book that comprehensively re-examines a famous mystery"
I first heard of the Lord Lucan story on the 20th anniversary of the murder of Sandra Rivett in 1994. This book gives a full and lengthy background to the case and could serve even as social history of the well off living in Belgravia and Mayfair in the early 70s. Piece by piece. Thompson pulls apart all the nonsense that has been said about Rivett's murder and Lucan's disappearance and instead puts a convincing, evidence based theory in its place
The very different perspective it had on the usual story of events.
The book is very well-read and the voice is easy to listen to.
A really enthralling book!
Refreshing to have this mystery examined from a fresh angle and some good insights missing from the Ransom/Veronica Lucan narratives that have imposed themselves as hard fact. Slightly improbable conclusions but alternatives to ponder. Narration good when Bentinck reading narrative: but awful, bewildering impersonations when reading dialogue that let it down! Her impersonations of "coppas" in that "ol' right, guvna" fashion were absolutely toe-curling. Spoiled it a little.
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