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Publisher's Summary

Murder, manslaughter, suicide, mishap - the very public business of determining death in colonial Sydney. Murder in colonial Sydney was a surprisingly rare occurrence, so when it did happen, it caused a great sensation. People flocked to the scene of the crime, to the coroner's court, and to the criminal courts to catch a glimpse of the accused.

Most of us today rarely see a dead body. In 19th-century Sydney, when health was precarious and workplaces and the busy city streets were often dangerous, witnessing a death was rather common. And any death that was sudden or suspicious would be investigated by the coroner. 

Henry Shiell was the Sydney city coroner from 1866 to 1889. In the course of his unusually long career, he delved into the lives, loves, crimes, homes, and workplaces of colonial Sydneysiders. He learned of envies, infidelities, passions, and loyalties, and just how short, sad, and violent some lives were. But his court was also, at times, instrumental in calling for new laws and regulations to make life safer.

Catie Gilchrist explores the 19th-century city as a precarious place of bustling streets and rowdy hotels, harborside wharves and dangerous industries. With few safety regulations, the colorful city was also a place of frequent inquests, silent morgues, and solemn graveyards. This is the story of life and death in colonial Sydney.

Praise:

"Catie Gilchrist draws back the veil on death in nineteenth-century Sydney to reveal life - ordinary, tragic and hopeful." (David Hunt, author of Girt and True Girt)

©2019 Dr. Catie Gilchrist (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Murder, Misadventure and Miserable Ends

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Australian historical true crime… Awesome!

I was a bit worried when I saw the author of the book also read the book, but usually doesn’t work out well. In this case the doctor had a pleasant wonderful relaxing voice and her tone and delivery was perfect for the genre. The stories are interesting and will be to anyone who likes just Storico true crime as I do. I read this in a couple of days and will probably read it again in a few months there isn’t much in this book left up to conjecture, except your own as most of it or rather all of it is based on facts and Connor reports and Connor inquest transcripts. They do have a little bit of bio which I love. So all in all I really think this was an excellent book.

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Interesting and Elightening

The author and narrator are very good and loved hearing the Australian vernacular. Made the lives of ordinary people in 18th and 19th century Australia real and put today's happenings into perspective and gave me even more respect for the work of coroners.

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very interesting and enlightening

lead a lot about how new laws are made and how Unconcerned some officials can be about public health

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  • Rose
  • 01-30-20

A great insight in to life and death

It must be said that life and liberty were something of a lottery. Some made it to old age, a lot didn’t. This book shows up the imperfections of moral double standards of life in Victorian Australia in the late nineteenth century. It’s a sad tale that might have been told anywhere but in this case Sydney New South Wales during the career of one city coroner. It’s a good book well worth a read though, I think the details as to duration and narrator are wrong.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-24-21

Brings Sydney’s macabre colonial history to life!

I couldn’t stop listening once I got started.

Dr Gilchrist’s book is a fascinating deep dive into Sydney’s pre-Federation history and the lives of its inhabitants, which, even Sydneyites tend not to know/learn very much about. It paints an interesting picture of Sydney life in the 19th Century, and captures the essence of that old saying “Media vita in morte sumus” or in the midst of life we are in death.

There is a subject of intrigue for everyone interested in history, murder mysteries, legal studies or just general knowledge. I’d particularly recommend it to anyone living in Sydney, Australia who’d like to know more about our city.

Dr Gilchrist also handles each tragic case with respect and non-judgement, and she takes care to frame crimes like infanticide, or situations of suicide, into an appropriate context for modern readers.

I absolutely recommend it!

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  • Magpie
  • 07-12-20

Brilliant

Highly recommended. Well researched, thoughtful. Excellent narration as well. Bringing early Australian history to life.

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  • Stephen S
  • 05-19-20

Thoroughly Captivating !

I love everything to do with Australia's and especially , Sydney's , Past History . This Audiobook is truly amazing and from start to finish had me totally captivated . Fantastic !