In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a First Class carriage on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks entered the carriage and discovered blood in the seat cushions; also on the floor, windows and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain.
The race to identify the killer and catch him as he flees on a boat to America was eagerly followed by citizens both sides of the Atlantic.
Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the nation.
This excellently read, painstakingly researched audiobook tells the story of a factual Victorian railway murder and the subsequent pursuit of justice. It is however, much more than a whodunnit and it explores arguments about the management of evidence, the astute questioning of witnesses and moreover it debates the morality of capital punishment. The closing few chapters are tense, gripping and almost unbearable. the final chapter is perhaps a wee bit too long...phrenology indeed!
The book started slowly for me whilst the author necessarily established facts, but quickly gathered pace to an extent that I listened to the whole thing in just two sittings.
Comparisons with The Suspicions of Mr Whicher are as inevitable as they are invidious. I enjoyed both books although truthfully speaking, this one just edged it for me.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I really enjoyed this book. Well read and kept me entertained to the end.
A seemingly small crime you’d think wouldn’t warrant a book of this length but it’s very good. Not repetitive in the slightest.
Good narration too
One of the most riveting books I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. I found myself looking for excuses to don my headphones to get another few chapters in!
The narration was first class. Story well delivered and I didn't want it to end.
If you could sum up Mr Briggs' Hat in three words, what would they be?
Victorian criminal sensation
What was one of the most memorable moments of Mr Briggs' Hat?
The chase to catch the suspect as he docks in America - it really brings home how small he world has become since then as we take 6 hour flights for granted. The lack of communication available is almost unimaginable for those of us used to reading about modern criminal investigations, and the lack of forensic capabilities makes you wonder how anyone was ever convicted.
Have you listened to any of John Telfer’s other performances? How does this one compare?
I have not listened to any other performances by this narrator. Although his performance was not terrible, he occasionally made errors which were a little jarring when listening.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The ending was a little moving, although one is left wondering what other outcome there would be - the author seems to be trying to convince us of the innocence of a suspect without ever presenting an alternative.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful