A Victorian murder. A Victorian madman. A modern judgment.
Gateshead, April 1866. The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane takes the forgotten case of a child murder in 1866 as a springboard to delve deeply into the pysche of the Victorians. What Jane Housham finds in this exploration of guilt, sexual deviance and madness is a diagnosis that is still ripe for the challenging and a sentence that provokes even our liberal modern judgment.
Set around Gateshead, it is a revelatory social history of the North - an area growing in industry and swelling with immigration, where factory workers are tinged blue and yellow by chemicals, the first tabloids are printed, children are left alone by working parents and haystack fires sweep the county in rebellion against the introduction of the police force.
Into this landscape a five-year-old Irish girl named Sarah Melvin sets out over the fell to look for her father, and a troubled young man makes a frightening leap of logic to save his own skin. Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs.
An excellent example of how to handle historical cases using available documents and surviving reports from the time to create a narrative is His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet
An awful example is The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane.
It's just a jumble of words the case, the social history, press reports and everything but the kitchen sink thrown together. So disorganised it drove me nuts.. and the tone of the narration is that of a poor quality teacher sending a class to sleep.
Sadly after 5 hours I could bear no more I had to return it for the refund - something I hate doing even mediocre books I try and struggle through hoping they'll improve but not this one!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A harrowing listen at times with much detail which is clearly not for the faint-hearted or squeamish amongst us, it is obvious that this book has been researched extensively. Interesting that it goes way beyond the murder and the reasons behind it but examines the early times of psychology. Truly fascinating.
The performance was excellent and I'd like to listen to more narrated by Jim Barclay.
A great listen for anyone interested in criminal history, like myself. A relatively strong stomach for gruesome detail is also helpful.