The subtitle says it all: "How The Victorians Revelled In Death And Detection And Created Modern Crime."
And if that gives one a start of surprise, well it should. When we hear that "V word," we are more apt to think of overly ornate boudoirs, tight corsets, yards of silken brocade, and the romantic language of the fan. But murder? Oh, certainly we've all heard of Jack the Ripper and 125 years later are still fascinated by him (or her?). But that was an anomaly of the era – wasn't it?
Social historian Judith Flanders proves herself a master storyteller as she recounts copious tales of British murder and mayhem that course through the entire 19th century and deftly shows us how our Victorian forebears were as fascinated by the subject as any devotee of reality television is in our own day.
Otherwise perfectly respectable pillars of Victorian...
Beyond the Book
To paraphrase an old poem, "Twas a balmy summer afternoon," July 5, 2011 to be exact. I was enjoying a peaceful lunch with a dear friend at an outdoor cafe in Portland, Oregon, when my cell phone rang and my usually placid, always refined eighty-nine year old mother screeched: "It's not guilty on all counts, and Nancy Grace is having a cow!"
She was speaking of the Casey Anthony verdict, which had just come down after a trial that had captivated Mom and a goodly portion of the rest of the country (including yours truly!) for the better part of three years. To this day that memory has an eerie aura for me very reminiscent of an old television show hosted by Walter Cronkite called You Are There!
I even remember how every broadcast began: "What kind of a day was it? A day...