Release Date: 04/10/12
"Capital Crimes" tells the shifting story of crime and punishment in London through vivid re-creations of a series of murders that stretches from the killing of Roger Legett, a notorious 'questmonger', during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, through to the hanging of Styllou Christofi in 1954. Some of the murderers, such as the political assassin John Bellingham, are still remembered. Others, including the eighteenth-century highwayman John Davis, are largely forgotten. But all their lives and fates have much to tell us - about London's changing underworld, about the slow evolution of policing in the capital, and about the sometimes strange workings of the law. Above all, they provide a fascinating sideways view of London over the centuries - from the crime-ridden alleyways of the Georgian capital to the supposedly respectable suburbs of Finchley, where the notorious 'baby-farmers' Amelia Sach and Annie Walters operated at the beginning of the twentieth century. Illustrated throughout with contemporary engravings and photographs, this is an essential read for all devotees of London - and of crime.
As a fan of true crime I love it when a new book lands that brings the seedy hidden underbelly of a cityto life, a chance to see that its not just a modern thing but something that exuded from beneath for centuries, since groups of people decided to live together for protection alongside profit.
So all in, this book should have been something spectacular, yet whilst it had some stories from London that I’ve heard before alongside others I hadn’t it felt more like a text book than a title to read for the pleasure, the sensationalism that I’d have expected was missing and rather than increasing the notoriety it seemed to dumb it all down into pure facts rather than giving the reader a story to stay with them.
All in an OK book but not one I’ll be reading again in a hurry.