Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Book of Remarkable Criminals - by Henry Brodribb Irving

A Book of Remarkable Criminals by Henry Brodribb Irving is a nice little find if you are a crime buff.  (US Edition)  (UK Edition) The criminals who are detailed are not familiar.  You won’t find Jack the Ripper here or any infamous criminals.  That is what makes the book a fun read.  It was all new to me.

Such as:

It is not often that the gaunt spectre of murder invades the cloistered calm of academic life. Yet such a strange and unwonted tragedy befell Harvard University in the year 1849, when John W. Webster, Professor of Chemistry, took the life of Dr. George Parkman, a distinguished citizen of Boston. The scene of the crime, the old Medical School, now a Dental Hospital, is still standing, or was when the present writer visited Boston in 1907.


Jenny Amenaide Brecourt was born in Paris in the year 1837. Her father was a printer, her mother sold vegetables. The parents neglected the child, but a lady of title took pity on her, and when she was five years old adopted her. Even as a little girl she was haughty and imperious. At the age of eight she refused to play with another child on the ground of her companion's social inferiority. "The daughter of a Baroness," she said, "cannot play with the daughter of a wine-merchant." When she was eleven years old, her parents took her away from her protectress and sent her into the streets to sell gingerbread—a dangerous experience for a child of tender years.

Do you know either of those stories?  I didn’t!

The book may be old –written after 1907 but before 1919 – but that does not mean it can’t be creepy:

A man who worked for Holmes as a handy man at the castle stated to the police that in 1892 Holmes had given him a skeleton of a man to mount, and in January, 1893, showed him in the laboratory another male skeleton with some flesh still on it, which also he asked him to mount. As there was a set of surgical instruments in the laboratory and also a tank filled with a fluid preparation for removing flesh, the handy man thought that Holmes was engaged in some kind of surgical work.

The essay at the beginning has some footnotes in the text with a funky type, but the rest of the text seems to fine.

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