Let me just say that I’m not entirely sure how to review a non-fiction book other than to just share my thoughts on it. My rating will be based on how well I was able to understand the subject of the book based on the author’s writing. I think that is pretty much the best way for me to approach this review.
It’s 1871, just outside of London, and a police constable is patrolling a remote area that is well known meeting place for lovers. He stumbles upon a young woman with a face bashed in beyond all recognition that is barely alive and begging for him to let her die. Thus, begins Murphy’s horrific and haunting account of the murder of a seventeen year old girl named Jane Maria Clouson.
Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane is a non-fiction novel about an unsolved murder in England during the Victorian era. This book is a very compelling read similar to reading true crime/mystery or suspense/thriller fiction novels.
It was both intriguing and frustrating to read about the investigation. I found myself cringing at times with how evidence and the victim were handled. Don’t even get me started on the several trials that followed. They were in my opinion a complete joke.
Murphy did extensive research for this novel. It is apparent in the abundance of annotations throughout the book. I suppose it could be argued that Murphy’s writing at times could have too much detail like when new people are introduced we get a bit of history around that individual. These bits of history do not relate directly to the murder so they could seem out of place. Personally, I felt this gave me a better understanding of the different people involved which also gave me some insight into what motivated them to do what they did.
I know I’m being very vague but I don’t want to give anything away. I think that the best way to go into this book is without knowing much about the murder and the events following it. I would recommend this for anyone that enjoys true crime, Victorian era history, or mystery/suspense novels. I found it to be a fascinating read and I look forward to trying out more books by this author.