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.
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.)
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
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to A Different Class of Murder the most enjoyable?
The very different perspective it had on the usual story of events.
What does Anna Bentinck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
The book is very well-read and the voice is easy to listen to.
Any additional comments?
A really enthralling book!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
The book thoroughly lays the foundation of the Lucan background, from his ancestral routes, upbringing, lifestyle and marriage before going into the for and against of the fateful night.
What I love about it is the way the argument swings back and forth, discussing the different accounts, their plausibility, and pitfalls. It never show bias to either side.
The narration was wonderful. Anna Bentinck has a pure and clear voice that was beautiful to listen to.
A fantastic book.
forget every thing you have read about the lucan murder this gives a fascinating three dimensional insight into the case and very plausible conclusion to how who and why gripping and excellent narration
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.
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
It jumped around too much. There was so much irrelevant detail and unrelated cases. If it had been chronological or organised better I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It was like listening to someone's train of thought as they went off on flights of fancy and back and forth through time with not much to join things together.
Would you ever listen to anything by Laura Thompson again?
What aspect of Anna Bentinck’s performance might you have changed?
The audio performance was fine.
What character would you cut from A Different Class of Murder?
Most of the old cases. I wanted to know about this murder not spend hours going back and forth and flitting between other cases.