Book Review: Book 13 of 2020 – Britain’s Unsolved Murders

Hello pals! I was really lucky to be sent this book by Pen and Sword – I have quite a collection of their books now and I’m still always shocked at the vast array of topics they publish! I received this title in October but have been unable to read it until now. It covers exactly what the title suggests and left me pondering a few cases a la Sherlock Holmes! Best leave it to the professionals though…


Title: Britain’s Unsolved Murders
Author: Kevin Turton
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Publication Date: 15th November 2019
Pages: 144
Rating: ***

Britain has its fair share of unsolved murders. Crimes that have both fascinated and horrified in equal measure, with many as baffling today as they were when the stories first hit the headlines in the national press. Spanning 100 years between 1857-1957, this book re-examines thirteen of these murder cases and retells the stories that have endured and confounded both police and law courts alike. Each chapter provides an account of the circumstances surrounding the killing, of the people caught up in the subsequent investigation and the impact it had on some of their lives. It also explores the question of guilt and to whom it should, or should not, be attached. Each of these murders poses an undeniable truth; no-one was ever proven to have committed the killing despite, in some cases, accusing fingers being pointed, arrests being made and show trials taking place. Consequently, notoriety, deserved or otherwise, was often attached to both victim and accused. But was it ever merited?

From the questionable court case surrounding Scotland’s now famous Madeleine Smith, and the failed police investigation into Bradford’s Jack the Ripper case of 1888, to the mysterious deaths of Caroline Luard and Florence Nightingale Shore at the start of the twentieth century, this book disturbs the dust, sifts the facts and poses the questions that mattered at the time of each murder. Did Harold Greenwood poison his wife in Kidwelly? Who was responsible for the Ripper-like killing of Emily Dimmock and Rose Harsent? Why did Evelyn Foster die on the moor near Otterburn in what became known as the Blazing car murder and who strangled Ann Noblett to death in 1957?

These are just some of the cases examined and the stories behind them. Each and every one, no matter how appalling the crime, still deserving of justice.

Synopsis

The synopsis gives a very good overview of the feel of book and highlights some of the 13 cases described within the book. The cases reflected upon within the book provide a broad range of locations, people, dates (spanning over 100 years) and crimes that make you feel a little unsettled – if that could have happened to them then, could something similar happen now? I stopped reading this at night to stop myself overthinking them all and panicking the same could happen to me!

It is a very short book, but was quite interesting and gave a quick look into a time before DNA and forensic testing changed detective work. The author provides a good overview of each crime, presenting facts from the case as well as some brief thoughts and theories from their own views. I think this could have been strengthened by adding more analysis, maybe some ‘specialist’ opinions and more speculation from the – this would have fleshed out some of the shorter chapters and engaged the reader more to ponder ‘what if’s.

While the recounted tales were obviously dramatic, the writing is clearly careful not to over-sensationalise the cases and instead focuses purely on the facts of each unique case more heavily than any public or media attention/thoughts. I wish they had incorporated a little more storytelling to truly captivate the readers attention, interest and imagination – sometimes this is just as powerful as stating plain fact. I had to reread a few sections again because I hadn’t been fully paying attention and missed bits.. it happens!

Overall though, it was a good read and covered some really interesting cases that I had never heard of and gave me some things to ponder! I gave it a 3* rating because the chapters were fairly short and I was hoping for a little more detail and analysis into the crimes rather than just the facts of the case.

Me looking for new clues in each chapter…

Much love,

Alison x


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