Anyone fancy a bit of True Crime

Murder at the inn: a history of crime in Britain's pubs and hotelsNew this week – Murder at the inn: a history of crime in Britain’s pubs and hotels by James Moore’ is a treasure  trove of dark tales linked to the best drinking haunts and historic hotels across the land

In which pub was the notorious murder that led to the Kray twins becoming Britain’s most feared gangsters? Where is the hostelry in which Jack the Ripper’s victims drank? How did Burke and Hare befriend their victims in a Scottish watering hole before luring them to their deaths? What is the name of the pub where the Lord Lucan mystery first came to light? And how did a pub become the scene of the murder that led to Ruth Ellis going to the gallows? For centuries, the history of beer and pubs has gone hand in hand with some of the nation’s most despicable and fascinating crimes. Packed with grizzly murders – including fascinating little-known cases – as well as sinister stories of smuggling, robbery and sexual intrigue, Murder at the Inn is a treasure trove of dark tales linked to the best drinking haunts and historic hotels across the land.

Lady Bette and the murder of Mr ThynnLady Bette and the murder of Mr Thynn by Nigel Pickford

Lady Bette, the 14-year-old heiress to the vast Northumberland estates, becomes the victim of a plot by her grandmother, the Countess Howard, to marry her to the dissolute fortune-hunter Thomas Thynn, a man three times her age with an evil reputation. Revolted by her new husband, Lady Bette flees to Holland. Within weeks, Thynn is gunned down in the street by three hired assassins. Who is behind the contract killing? Is it the Swedish Count Konigsmark, young and glamorous with blond hair down to his waist? Or is it a political assassination, as the anti-Catholic press maintains?

 

Trials of Passion: Crimes in the name of love and madness

Trials of Passion

If you like true crime, Lisa Appignanesi’s book Trials of Passion  investigates the motives and thinking of the time on insanity leading to such crimes. Here’s a taste, no pun intended, of one of the crimes which began in Brighton on 8th August 1871.

“The chocolate cream poisoner,” Christiana Edmunds, was the unmarried daughter of a once famous British architect. She  set off from Brighton ostensibly to visit her sister’s grave in Margate, about a hundred miles away. 

Travelling on her own, she rented a room in Margate for two nights (unusual) and then moved on to London. She left behind boxes in rented room which contained a variety of ‘sweetmeats’. These turned out to have been doctored with strychnine and were posted to well-known Brighton people . The town was left living in fear.

Her motive?  She was passionately in love with a married doctor, who wanted to end their relationship. He told her to stop writing to him – he had a wife, a wife who became her first target. 

 

Two true crime reads

The most dangerous animal of all: searching for my father  and finding the Zodiac KillerThe Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary L Stewart

An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.

Soon after his birthmother contacted him for the first time at the age of thirty-nine, adoptee Gary L. Stewart decided to search for his biological father, a quest that would lead him to a horrifying truth and force him to reconsider everything he thought he knew about himself and his world.

The Most Dangerous Animal of All tells the story of Stewart’s decade-long search for his father following a complex trail of startling twists and connections. Combing through government records, news reports and through conversations with his father’s relatives and friends, Stewart turns up a host of clues, including forensic evidence, identifying his father as one of the most infamous and still-wanted serial killers in American history.

The Prince, the Princess and the Perfect Murder by Dr Andrew RossThe prince, the princess and the perfect murder

The royal family’s darkest secret and the establishment cover-up.

Half a century before Dodi and Diana, another Prince of Wales would be involved in a deadly love triangle with a fabulously wealthy Egyptian “prince.” Prince Edward was the future King of England, a destiny he would famously forsake over his love for Wallis Simpson. But two decades before he was involved in another love affair that threatened to jeopardize the royal family. The story took place in maisons de rendezvous, luxurious chateaux in the French countryside providing hospitality for the British upper classes, the richest food, the finest wines and the most beautiful women, the violent and dangerous Paris demi-monde.

 This is the story of a passionate and deadly love affair set against the dramatic backdrop of the Great War. Edward was enthralled by the ‘crazy physical attraction’ of Marguerite Alibert, queen of the Paris demi-monde. When he broke off their hidden relationship, Edward thought that he was free of Marguerite. He was wrong.

After the war, as a violent thunderstorm raged outside the Savoy Hotel in London, Marguerite fired three shots from a semi-automatic pistol and shot dead her husband, an Egyptian multimillionaire and playboy, at point blank range. She stood trial for murder at the Old Bailey. As Prince Charming and poster boy of the British Empire, Edward now risked exposure as a degenerate wastrel, partying behind the lines while thousands were blown away on the Western Front.  The author did several years’ research, accessing unpublished documents held in the Royal Archives and private collections in England and France to find the truth.