Summary and book reviews of The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse

An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue

by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell X
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2016, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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About this Book

Book Summary

One of the most notorious and bizarre mysteries of the Edwardian age, for readers who loved The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

At the close of the Victorian era, as now, privacy was power. The extraordinarily wealthy 5th Duke of Portland had a mania for it, hiding in his horsedrawn carriage and creating tunnels between buildings to avoid being seen. So when, in 1897, an elderly widow asked the court to exhume the grave of her late father-in-law, T. C. Druce, under the suspicion that he'd led a double life as the 5th Duke, no one could dismiss her claim. The eccentric duke, Anna Maria was sure, had faked his death as Druce, and, therefore, her son should inherit the Portland millions. A lurid, decade-long case was born. Uncovering new archival treasures and offering a "lively account of...the lies, deceit, and hypocrisy of Victorian society" (The Times), Piu Marie Eatwell evokes an era in transition, when the rise of sensationalist media blurred every fact into fiction, and when family secrets and fluid identities pushed class anxieties to new heights. 30 illustrations

SCENE ONE
Welbeck Abbey
December 1879

Eccentric men have peculiar habits; they do not seem to move in the same sphere with other mortals, but are actuated by different influences from those which affect the bulk of mankind.

GEORGE FREDERICK GRAHAM
English Synonyms Classified and Explained (1857)

It was a dark, windy winter evening a few days before Christmas 1879. The occupants of the saloon carriage of the train of the Great Central Railway Company that rattled from King's Cross Station in the direction of Sheffield were tense and silent. In the carriage sat a young man of twenty-two. He was pale, with a high forehead and heavily hooded eyes. Also in the carriage sat five other people: two younger men, a sickly boy, a pensive and alert-looking little girl of six years old, and an older woman who regarded the other occupants with anxious attention. All the party were dressed in sombre black, the garb of deep mourning. Every so often, the countryside bordering the line ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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I found the book as intriguing as its title; it reads like a cross between an Agatha Christie novel and a supermarket tabloid. The story of this riveting case is so deliciously twisted and convoluted that I found myself smiling in appreciation at each revelation, and I can imagine many readers feeling the same.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (671 words).

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Media Reviews

Library Journal
This true crime tale that reads like a novel is recommended for lovers of historical crime stories, Victorian and Edwardian scandals, media history, and historical legal thrillers with many twists

Kirkus Reviews
[An] engrossing tale of mystery, lies, and intrigue…Besides recounting years of subterfuge, media hype, greed, and fraud, Eatwell throws light on Victorian and Edwardian society: aristocratic entitlement and power, numbing poverty, political corruption, and many secret lives.

Author Blurb David King, bestselling author of Death in the City of Light
A superb unraveling of a sensational mystery, and an absolutely gripping read.

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Beyond the Book

Eccentric British Noblemen

William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, 5th Duke of Portland William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, 5th Duke of Portland and the eponymous "Dead Duke" of Piu Marie Eatwell's book, was undeniably eccentric. He was extremely reclusive, never inviting anyone to his home at Welbeck Abbey and prohibiting his servants and workmen from acknowledging his presence in any way (any who did were immediately expelled from the property). He communicated with his staff only via letter; an inbox and outbox were fastened to his chamber door to facilitate the communication. Perhaps most interestingly, he had miles of tunnels excavated under his property which led through many underground rooms (such as an enormous ballroom, thought to be the second largest in the country at the time).

Needless to say, he was not ...

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