> Bless Their Hearts Mom: History Corner / Book Review: Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy
Thursday, August 4, 2016

History Corner / Book Review: Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Pegasus Books, via Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them.

 A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: 
>The Unsolved Murder that Shocked Victorian England

 Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane cover

A vivid investigation into the unsolved murder case that shocked Victorian England, by the author of the New York Times Notable Book Shooting Victoria.

On April 26th, 1871, a police constable walking one of London’s remotest beats stumbled upon a brutalized young woman kneeling on a muddy road—gashes were cloven into her skull; her left cheek was slashed open and smashed-in; her right eye was destroyed; and above it a chunk of the temporal bone had been bashed out. The policeman gaped in horror as the woman held out her hand before collapsing into the mud, muttering “let me die” and slipping into a coma. Five days later, she died, her identity still unknown.

Within hours of her discovery on Kidbrooke Lane scores of the officers of Greenwich Division were involved in the investigation, and Scotland Yard had sent one of its top detectives, John Mulvany, to lead it. After five days of gathering evidence, the police discovered the girl’s identity: Jane Maria Clouson, a maid in the house of the renowned Pook family . . . and she was two months’ pregnant with Edmund Pook’s child when she died.
Hours later, they arrested her master's son, twenty-year-old Edmund, for her murder.


It's truly amazing how far forensic science has come from the days of Victorian England. Thomas takes on this cold case and looks at it through modern forensic eyes and science, to see if he can discover a different solution.

Thomas takes a look at how Jane's life was so different from that of her employer's, and the disparity between the two classes in Victorian England, and outs reality to visions of modern TV shows. It is this disparity that had a hand in Jane's death, as Thomas shows as he evolves the story, as public opinion is swayed and pushed for a solution for the case, even if it isn't the right one.

By looking at all angles of the case, based on evidence, Thomas is able to identify the true murder, and to show how a bungled investigation, a legal system with its own agenda and public opinion, ultimately allowed the killer to never have to atone for his crime. And then Thomas shows the aftermath of the case and how it had far reaching effects, ultimately leading to better forensic and legal procedures.

If you love modern mysteries, do not miss this historical one! It has everything from a modern perspective, but is very educational and interesting as well!

About the Author:

Paul Thomas Murphy is the author of Shooting Victoria, a 2012 New York Times notable book. He holds advanced degrees in Victorian Studies from Oxford and McGill Universities and the University of Colorado, where he taught both English and writing on interdisciplinary topics. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.

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