THE ART OF THE ENGLISH MURDER
by Lucy Worsley
Audiobook: Published by Tantor Audio | Narrated by Anne Flosnik | Publication date: Oct 15, 2014| Running time: 7 hrs 3 min
Hardcover/E-Book: Published by Pegasus Books | Date 10/15/14 | ISBN 9781605986340 | Pages: 336
Audiobook provided by Tantor audio for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own unless otherwise noted.
Today I am thankful for audiobooks which allow me to do more chores AND read at the same time! And thanks to Felicia at the Geeky Blogger and Jennifer at the Book Nympho for first turning me on to them!
From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to the cosy crimes of the Golden Age, renowned historian Lucy Worsley explores the evolution of the traditional English murder—and reveals why we are so fascinated by this sinister subject.
Murder—a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?
In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since. The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime—and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historians. (http://pegasusbooks.com/books/the-art-of-the-english-murder-hardcover)
Lucy Worsley, PhD is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in England. Please visit www.lucyworsley.com.
I love Lucy Worsley’s books so I jumped at the chance to listen to this audiobook. It is the first non-fiction book I consumed as audio. I thought the subject matter would be interesting, and it is. It starts off discussing how and why humanity, and the British in particular, were fascinated with real murders and how they then progressed to a fascination with the murder mystery from the Penny Dreadful not quite to modern day. It includes the progress of women from amateur sleuths to detectives.
Like I said, it is the first non-fiction I have listened to. While my husband enjoyed it, I did not. I had a hard time following which author, murder or criminal she was discussing. I believe a lot of that had to do with my particular brain and ability to assimilate knowledge aurally. At one point she is discussing Dorothy Sayres and Agatha Christie and a few other writers and I had a hard time tracking about whom she was writing from sentence to sentence.
I think it would have been much easier for me to track and understand this in written format. But, I always had to see a professor and take notes as well as read and reread texts in college courses.
My husband had no difficulties with any of it listening as we were driving somewhere.
The narrator had an interesting accent, and had unusual ways of voicing quotations, but I found the rhythmic modulation of her voice monotonous, even soporific. Each sentence/paragraph had the same rhythm of how words were spoken and then drawn out at the end. Though her voice had a pleasant alto range, it was fairly nasal and, in combination with her sing song rhythm, it really made me want to be done with the recording.
My husband only listened for a few hours but didn’t find that an issue. We both liked Worsely’s analyses of the subject matter and how the genre progressed over time and how it was influenced by changes in society, the legal system and forensic science.
I think if you love mystery and history the thesis of the book will grab you from the start. If you write mystery, or make a habit of reviewing them, it is a must read.