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.
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Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae; Narrated by Antony Ferguson
This book was recommended to me by FictionFan and she was right. This is a fascinating true crime story. The author has compiled a series of original documents and organized them for presentation in this book. The main part of the story comes from the account that Roderick Macrae wrote while he was in jail awaiting trial. In this narrative he not only confesses to 3 brutal murders but he begins his tale months before the murders and details all of the events in his life that led up to “his bloody project”.
This is one of those stories where truth is stranger than fiction. The narrative highlights the prejudice and class distinctions that were common in 1869 Scotland. I think the story also proves that old adage about how “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This is a fascinating story.
I listened to this book on Audible and I found Antony Ferguson’s narration to be wonderful. He brought the characters to life without overdoing it and the rhythm and pacing of the narration to be perfect for my listening. I didn’t find myself tuning out at any point. It’s a shame what happened to Roderick because I found his story to be well written and I couldn’t help but wonder what he might have become if his circumstances had been different. I’m highly recommending this one whether you like crime or just a good read.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 4.5 stars!!
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It’s the late 1800’s in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and a young woman’s decapitated body has been found in a farmer’s field. This book traces the story of the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. The initial challenge is to simply identify her because the head is missing. With fingerprints not yet broadly used in law enforcement and crime scene preservation not even a topic of conversation, the attempt to identify the girl finally comes down to an observant shoe seller who recognizes her shoes uniqueness and is able to actually trace the sale. The young lady had traveled to Cincinnati from her family’s rural farm to meet up with a boyfriend.
This is a very detailed look at a very brutal crime. The story is based on extensive research of the accounts that remain from the time. I really appreciated the structure of the chapters, with each looking at an aspect of the investigation from start to finish. It’s almost surprising that the identification of the body and the perpetrators was possible given the limited tools the police had available to them at the time. This book should be of interest to those who like true crime or historical crime stories.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 3.5 stars!!
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Thank you to Pen & Sword Publishing for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Alexandria takes a job as a summer intern at a Louisiana law firm that defends murderers. When she sees a videotape of Ricky Langley’s confession she does not expect the maelstrom of personal memories and emotions that bombards her, or the journey that she will embark on as a result. In this book the author tells us the story of Ricky Langley side-by-side with her own story. Both of these stories are moving and compelling, addressing the complexity of family relationships and how they shape who we are.
I found this book really easy and enjoyable to read even though the subject matter is at times very dark. The author spent years researching the Ricky Langley case and has put together a very thorough presentation of his story. At the same time, she has opened herself up in a heart-wrenching way in order to relate her own story. The story is well-written and moves seamlessly between the two narratives. This is a great biography/memoir/true crime story.
Alinefromabook’s rating: 4 stars!!
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