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Publisher's Summary

In this fascinating exploration of murder in 19th-century England, Judith Flanders examines some of the most gripping cases that captivated the Victorians and gave rise to the first detective fiction.  

Murder in the 19th century was rare. But murder as sensation and entertainment became ubiquitous, with cold-blooded killings transformed into novels, broadsides, ballads, opera, and melodrama - even into puppet shows and performing-dog acts. Detective fiction and the new police force developed in parallel, each imitating the other - the founders of Scotland Yard gave rise to Dickens's Inspector Bucket, the first fictional police detective, who in turn influenced Sherlock Holmes and, ultimately, even P. D. James and Patricia Cornwell. 

In this meticulously researched and engrossing book, Judith Flanders retells the gruesome stories of many different types of murder in Great Britain, both famous and obscure: from Greenacre, who transported his dismembered fiancee around town by omnibus, to Burke and Hare's bodysnatching business in Edinburgh; from the crimes (and myths) of Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, to the tragedy of the murdered Marr family in London's East End. Through these stories of murder - from the brutal to the pathetic - Flanders builds a rich and multi-faceted portrait of Victorian society in Great Britain.

©2011 Judith Flanders (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about The Invention of Murder

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Excellent, awesome and educational!

I love true crime and history so this book was perfect for me. They do have true crime stories throughout this book, but they also have great stories about the history of England’s criminal system. From the first police who walked the beach to Scotland yard this is an education and crime. If you like historical true crime and history you will love this book. If you were just looking for gory details that is not this book. I am so glad I bought this book and now I will be reading it again in the futur.

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Boring

This is literally my 6th time trying to read this book because I love true crime. I tried 5 times with the physical book and gave up and thought perhaps the audio would be better. Nope. Fascinating subject managed to be written in such a dreadfully boring way that even when read in audio it was worse. So disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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Nice Try But Ultimately Bites More Than It Can Chew

I listened to the book on Audible and the narration was good if not spectacular. The narrator had a challenge keeping My attention, and this is coming from someone who loves noir/gothic setting and true crime. The real problem was that the book is so poorly organized with the author jumping in and out of references to true crime and the literature they supposedly influenced whole also going back and forth throughout the 18th century that it became somewhat white noise. I also question some of the conclusions the author comes to in her analysis of where real-life murders affected literature and where literature affected the real world. For a book supposedly trying the connect a massive amount of dots, it reads more like a survey of interesting coincidences with some suggestions of actual, intentional, influence. As a result, deeper analysis is limited and the book reads more like it is simply trying to keep ahold of a topic that requires better and deeper discussions.