The good people of Sutton Publishing can always be depended on to produce an excellent product with their Sutton True Crime History series and author Alison Bruce doesn't disappoint with Cambrideshire Murders (2005).
The Sutton True Crime series is a sort of survey of British criminal history and is a fascinating a look at crime situated in a particular place over a span of time. Author Bruce opens the volume with a piece from the Newgate Calendar documenting the execution of a fifteen-year-old boy for the murder of another boy, twelve years old and then takes the Reader to one of England's most ancient fairs held at Stourbridge, Cambridge and on to Burwell where in 1727 around eighty people gathered to watch a puppet show died when the barn where the entertainment was being held caught fire.
Alison Bruce presents the reader with cases where their may have been a miscarriage of justice, as in the 1850 execution Elias Lucas, tried jointly with his sister-in-law Mary Reeder or the murder of his wife, Susan and also the 1921 acquittal of Thomas Clanwaring for the murder of shopkeeper Alice Maud Lawn.
Cambridgeshie is, of course, best known as the home Cambridge University and one o the most interesting stories concerns Cambridge student Douglas Newton Potts who shot and killed professor Alexander Frederick Richmond Wolloston, a trained physician, botanist and zoologist and police office Sergeant James Willis in 1930 at King's College before turning the gun on himself.
Cambridgeshire Murders is well illustrated with many interesting photographs and reproductions of contemporaneous drawings. One of the most fascinating depicts squares of preserved flesh, looking like bits of tanned flesh belonging to Thomas Weems, hanged in 1819 for the murder of his wife, and William Corder, hanged in 1828 for the infamous Red barn Murder, which was, as of 1910, kept in the collection of Trinity College Library. There is a similar photograph of part of the noose that was used to hang convicted murderer Jeremy Slade in 1828 along with a preserved slice of the killer's skin.
Alison Bruce assembles here some sixteen chapters covering a wide variety of time frames and a good assortment of crimes. Always interesting, I would highly recommend Cambridgeshire Murders to anyone interested in historic true crime from an English perspective.