A look at the dark side of life, Victorian-style, when nothing was quite as it seemed and a public execution could be an entertaining family day out. Murderers, poachers, thieves, pickpockets and vagabonds all went about their business with impunity. Crime took place on the streets, on public transport, in homes, pubs, prisons, asylums, workhouses and brothels – it was all part of everyday life in Brighton and Hove in the late 1800s. Read about the notorious railway murderer, Percy Lefroy, who appeared at his trial in full evening dress and went to the gallows in an old brown suit. Gasp at the audacity of a temptress who fell in love with a doctor and tried to poison his wife, with strychnine laced chocolate. Then there’s little Emily, a girl who received imprisonment with hard labour for stealing a few tempting pieces of gingerbread while a gaggle of disruptive young women loved causing a riot, flirting with men and smashing windows. It was madness and mayhem in those weird and wonderful times – and it’s brought vividly to life by Janet Cameron in Brighton and Hove – Murder and Misdemeanours.
This book focusses on Victorian Brighton and the crimes that took place in that 100 years. This book is full of stories – some serious, others bordering on comical. It seems Cameron really has done her homework – the book was detailed and although not very long, it contained some interesting and useful facts.
However, I did not find this an easy read. I found myself having to force myself to read the chapters – even though some were very short, only a page or two long. I thought the use of pictures was interesting as well. She wanted to show an area but used a modern photograph instead of a picture that revealed Brighton back in the 1800s. Although this book will be useful to my dissertation I felt a bit let down. I thought the book would be more interesting than it was and I’m afraid I won’t be actively seeking out books by Cameron.