Aside from Jack the Ripper, grisly murders don’t usually spring to mind when we think of the Victorian era, but hundreds of downright horrible crimes regularly hit the headlines at the time. While most of these have sunk without trace, Michelle Morgan has delved into dozens of long-forgotten murders, mysteries, kidnappings, disappearances and good-old-fashioned sex-scandals to paint an enthralling picture of crime in the days of old Queen Vicky.
As well as a whole bunch of murders and throat-slashing jilted lovers, there are a surprising number of accounts centred on that well-known source of killers – the stage actor. One of the most intriguing is the story of popular thespian William Terriss and his (somewhat unhinged) fellow actor Richard Prince, who stabbed the former to death at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre.
The inclination of a lot of killers to cut their victim’s throats left me feeling a bit woozy at times, and the sheer number of people who inflicted horrifying pain upon their victims (who, shortly before, they had intended marrying) is mind-boggling. It certainly puts twenty-first century domestic abuse statistics into perspective.
I did occasionally feel the text might have benefited from another good edit, but otherwise Ms Morgan tells a good tale. All in all, a fascinating collection of gory stories (and I do mean gory!)