A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley- Feature and Review


 Murder -- a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria's lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it's been a part of us ever since. The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historians. 



The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred HitchcockThe Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley is a 2014 Pegasus Books publication.

A must read for British Crime Enthusiasts-

This non-fiction book outlines the history of British Crime- both real and fictional and their obsession with crime and murder. It’s not just the British, though. I happen to love, love, love British crime fiction. Two of my all- time favorite book series are British Mysteries- one historical and one set in present day.

I also love my Brit-Box-(Worsely has a television version of this book currently airing on this service) and Acorn TV subscriptions too. Great crime series- from dark and gritty to light and cozy.

This book explores all the flavors of British Crime- Scotland Yard, Sherlock Holmes, the Golden Age, and true crime.

The book is mainly focused on historical British Crime- not contemporary- and is well- researched, but never dwells too long in one place. In fact, the book is only a little over three hundred pages and covers a lot of ground in that space.

Some of the history is more interesting than others, but this book was right up my alley. It reminded me of some great mysteries I’ve read over the years and had me thinking of re-reading a few of them, and also reminded me of authors I have yet to try.

Despite the occasional imbalance in the flow, I think this book is perfect for those obsessed with the history of British Crime. Some of the material is probably familiar for the aficionado, but it will still be fun to revisit it. For someone just now developing an interest in British Crime, this book could serve as a crash course and give you lots of material to research and may send you off on a few deep dives for more detailed information.

I breezed through this one quickly, enthralled as always, by actual crimes and the evolution of British Crime novels through the years. Crime fiction lovers will want to add this one!



Lucy was born in Reading , studied Ancient and Modern History at New College, Oxford, and got a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex.

Her  first job after leaving college was at a crazy but wonderful historic house called Milton Manor in Oxfordshire, where she gave guided tours.   Soon after  that  she  moved to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in the lovely job for administrator of the Wind and Watermills Section. She then departed for English Heritage in 1997, first as an Assistant Inspector and then as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings; Bolsover Castle, Hardwick Old Hall, and Kirby Hall were her favourite properties there. In 2002  she made a brief excursion to Glasgow Museums before coming down to London as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in 2003. Yes, this is a brilliant job, but no, you can’t have it. (Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

You might also catch her presenting history films on the old goggle box, giving the talks on the cruise ship Queen Mary 2, or slurping cocktails.

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