"Internet Law Book Reviews, Provided by Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London)

Books from Pen and Sword Books Limited, 2007

Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in and around Colchester

Edition: paperback

Author: Patrick Denney

ISBN: 1-903425-80-8

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £10.99

Publication Date: 2007


The formula for this series is a winning one: case studies of all kinds of crimes extending over any stretch of British history, with lavish illustrations and a dramatic presentation.Patrick Denney has added a most successful volume to the series with this work on Colchester. The author takes us from a horrendous Marian treason trial and execution to a puzzling case in the village of Fingringhoe in 1939, and the journey is one in which the reader will learn a great deal about the shifting conceptions of crime and morality.

One of the pleasures of this kind of crime history is that we understand the major historical ideologies through the local and in particular - we grasp the national Zeitgeist through the actions of people caught up in the economic and political process. George Eagle, who was hunted down and tried for treason in 1557, died for the Protestant faith after living rough like an outlaw in the country, finally seen and betrayed by a local person.

More typically, the Fordham double murder of 1875 presents us with that scenario in which the issue of insanity is raised as defence; a man battered his parents to death with a poker, and then stood before the magistrates.We are taken on the dark and dramatic journey through the courts by the author, going from Coronerís court to the Quarter Sessions before the man, Thomas Johnson, arrived in Broadmoor.Patrick Denney gives us transcripts of the trials and we have a vivid sense of the sensational events, and so the understanding of how the professionals at the time thought about mental illness comes over clearly.Thomas never even made it to what should have been the last stage of trial Ė the Essex Summer Assize Ė as he was already in Broadmoor, where he died in 1911.

A feature of the book that is generally less common in regional casebooks is the attention paid to the human documentary element, as in George Sargeantís final letter from the condemned cell in Chelmsford and the account of his last hours before the Bradford hangman James Berry arrived to see the man into eternity.We read thatthe condemned man ' ... was up and dressed soon after six-thirty, after having had a reasonable nightís sleep.He then enjoyed a good breakfast of two eggs, bread, butter and tea...'We have a remarkable insight into the psychology of such ritual judicial killings at a time when it was the subject of great curiosity and media interest.

I recommend this latest 'Foul Deeds' volume both to crime historians and to general readers who want to understand the crime in this area, in its national and local context.Patrick Denney has succeeded in re-telling some dark tales with a workable mix of general history and documentary detail.

Stephen Wade

Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in London's West End
Edition: Paperback

Author : Geoffrey Howse

ISBN: 1845630017

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £10.99

Publication Date: 2006

Publisherís Title Information

London's West End is associated with fashion and glamour but for centuries it has had a far darker side. Geoffrey Howse has uncovered an astonishing catalogue of sinister deeds, some of them famous but others long forgotten. Read about spying, treason, embezzlement, regicide, robbery, forgery, religious persecution, suicide, murder and mutilation; and 'witness' horrendous punishments such as drawing, hanging, disemboweling, quartering, castration, beheading and burning. Earlier cases include the execution of Scottish patriots (1305/6) and three monks who dared to question the supremacy of Henry VIII in 1535. Such events attracted great public attention, as did the extraordinary execution of Charles I in 1649 and, in 1820, the hanging and mutilation of the Cato Street Conspiritors. The foul murder of the famous actor William Terriss, by a madman, in 1897, is featured as are several notable cases from the twentieth century including the horrific wartime murders of Gordon Cummins, the strange disappearances of the socialist MP Victor Grayson and Lord Lucan, the Charing Cross Trunk Murder as well as the mysterious death of boxer Freddie Mills.


The author sets out to describe London's West End in the context of its rather murky past.Foul deeds abound in the form of murders coupled with suspicious deeds, unresolved killings and mysterious disappearances.

Foul deeds and murders from 1236 to 1984 comprise the first chapter and takes up a fifth of the book.The reader is treated to the hangings, drawings and quarterings of a variety of individuals, some well known others not.Further foul deeds take the form of killings in which attempts were made to dismember bodies in order to dispose of them.†† The more recent events examined, include the mysterious death of boxer Freddie Mills in 1965, the disappearance of Lord Lucan in 1974 and the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984.

In the course of the chapter the early days of Tyburn feature prominently.The foul deeds of the West End become entangled with the history of the City of London.Foul deeds in the West End resulted in the transfer of many accused across the border to rest temporarily in Newgate and together with City of London miscreants tried in the Old Bailey Sessions House, both were transported through the City and West End streets to be 'turned off' at Tyburn.

Among the better known individuals and incidents justifying a chapter apiece are Guy Fawkes, Charles I, the murder of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval and the Cato Street conspiracy.

Geoffrey Howse is an actor and his fascination with West End and its theatres come over clearly in a chapter devoted to the murder of actor William Terris outside the Adelphi Theatre in 1897.The reader is treated to a biography covering the lives and careers of Terris and of stage hand Richard Prince who spent his final years in Broadmoor for the murder.

An equally fascinating story is told of the disappearance of Victor Grayson in 1920.Grayson was a strange character who served briefly as a member of Parliament and whose fortunes rose and plummeted almost in time with his mental health.Unlike most disappearances, the public generally did not become aware of the mystery for some seven years.Grayson had become involved with Maundy Gregory a strange character with the ear of Lloyd George.In 1933 Gregory was imprisoned and fined under the new Honours Act, having acted as a broker in the sale of honours.Grayson had publicly demanded an independent investigation into what he claimed was a blatant sale of honours and threatened to name names.

The little book of just under 200 pages is profusely illustrated throughout.It is the kind of work that the reader can pick up and put down at will, reading perhaps just one foul deed or chapter at a time.Others will be satisfied only with a complete reading at one sitting!


The A-Z of London Murders


Author: Geoffrey Howse

ISBN: 9781845630331

Publishers: Pen & Sword

Price: £16.99

Publication Date: 2007

Publisherís Title Information

Even accounting for London's large conurbation, England's capital city has had more than its fair share of murders over the centuries, having more than half of the memorable British murders in more recent years. A considerable number of London murders have made international headlines and remain important milestones in criminal history. Lesser-known and forgotten murders are also included, from the killing of Edmond Ironside in 1016 to crimes committed in the early years of the 21st century. Such names as Franz Muller, Jack the Ripper, Elenor Pearsey, Dr Crippen, Louis Voisin, Neville Heath, Ruth Ellis and Dennis Nilsen are known to most people who have an interest in crime history; but The A-Z of London Murders delves more deeply into murders committed in the capital providing a superb gazetteer of murder in London. The author takes us on grim journeys where many of the crime scenes can still be seen on the streets of the capital today.

The author

Geoffrey Howse, actor, writer and local historian, was born in Sheffield and grew up in the village of Elsecar, situated amidst the great estate surrounding historic Wentworth Woodhouse. Geoffrey has lived in London for over thirty years.His recent books include North London Murders, Foul Deeds Suspicious Deaths in London's East End and Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths in London's West End.