Category: Historical True Crime
Blurb: In 1919, when a shopkeeper and her dog were found dead in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with brutal head injuries, there followed an extraordinary catalogue of events and a local police investigation which concluded that both had died as a result of a tragic accident. A second investigation by Scotland Yard led to the arrest of an Irish war veteran, but the outcome was far from conclusive.
My Thoughts: What first got my attention with this book was the Sherlock Holmes in the title and then that it was the murder of a widow, and I found that I really enjoyed it. This is not a fictional account but more of a documentary style. Because the murder occurred in the 20th century there is quite a bit of documentation that the writer had to work with and forensic techniques were beginning to be developed. Mrs. Ridgley was by all accounts a decent woman who ran her shop to make her living and didn’t have any particular enemies, yet she is found dead in her shop one cold morning. The first policeman to arrive tries to follow all the correct crime scene procedures of the time but the local investigators aren’t quite so conscientious. After a week, Scotland Yard is called in and they send their best detective to run the case.
One of the things that I think makes true crime so fascinating is all the forensic tools now available to solve crime and sometimes we forget that those tools are still relatively new. I found this investigation to be intriguing, not only because of the way the forensics were messed up but because the techiniques were still new. Though they couldn’t DNA match the blood, they could determine that it was blood on the accused’s shirt. The author takes the reader through the investigation in great detail using records from the time period and trial transcripts as much as possible. This crime took place 100 years ago but boy how things have changed since them. This book would be a great pick for true crime lovers or anyone interested in police work.