I love Lucy Worsley and will watch pretty much anything that she does. I will also read anything she writes too- I just find her a really knowledgeable and friendly presence on screen and on the page. I remember watching the programme connected to this book when it first came out (it’s recently been repeated, I think.) I was also drawn to this book because a) I seem to be reading a lot of crime novels at the moment and b) research is afoot.
In the book, we’re taken on a journey through crime, crime reporting and crime fiction, starting from Thomas De Quincey and the Ratcliffe Highway Murders in Georgian London and ending with George Orwell’s ‘perfect murder’. Throughout, lots of famous cases- Whicher, Maria Marten, various poisoners- are referenced and cross-referenced with the art that they inspired. It’s a treasure trove for the whodunnit buff, but there’s not really much here that hasn’t been covered elsewhere- most notably in Judith Flanders’ excellent The Invention of Murder (in fact, Worsley credits her as a consultant on the programme.) However, Worsley’s upbeat tone makes this a rollicking read if you’ve not read Flanders’ book, or it’s been a while since you read it.