Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane by Paul Thomas Murphy Online

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane
Title : Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781605989822
Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 400

On April 26th, 1871, a police constable walking one of London’s remotest beats stumbled upon a brutalized young woman kneeling on a muddy road—gashes were cloven into her skull; her left cheek was slashed open and smashed-in; her right eye was destroyed; and above it a chunk of the temporal bone had been bashed out. The policeman gaped in horror as the woman held out her hOn April 26th, 1871, a police constable walking one of London’s remotest beats stumbled upon a brutalized young woman kneeling on a muddy road—gashes were cloven into her skull; her left cheek was slashed open and smashed-in; her right eye was destroyed; and above it a chunk of the temporal bone had been bashed out. The policeman gaped in horror as the woman held out her hand before collapsing into the mud, muttering “let me die” and slipping into a coma. Five days later, she died, her identity still unknown.Within hours of her discovery on Kidbrooke Lane scores of the officers of Greenwich Division were involved in the investigation, and Scotland Yard had sent one of its top detectives, John Mulvany, to lead it. After five days of gathering evidence, the police discovered the girl’s identity: Jane Maria Clouson, a maid in the house of the renowned Pook family . . . and she was two months’ pregnant with Edmund Pook’s child when she died.Murphy carefully reviews the evidence in the light of 21st century forensic science in order to identify Jane’s killer as Edmund Walter Pook. Using a surprisingly abundant collection of primary sources, Murphy aims to recreate the drama of the case as it unfolded, with its many twists and turns, from the discovery of the body to the final crack of the gavel—and beyond.


Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane Reviews

  • Susan

    I love historical true crime books and so I was looking forward to reading this account of a crime – and a trial – which highlighted the class system in Victorian London. Jane Maria Clouson lived her short life in the middle of Queen Victoria’s long reign and, like so many young women then, she spent much of her life in service. Not in a grand house, but as the only servant – a ‘maid of all work’ – for the Pook family. The delightfully named, Ebenezer Pook, ran a printer’s shop i [...]

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Jane Clousen may have been a maid-of-all-work, but Jane Clousen mattered. To the people of Lewisham during 1870s Victorian England, there was a distinction between the working class and the burghers. Dear Jane was a fifteen year old seduced by the younger son of her employers who led her to her death. This book discusses the trial of Edmund Pook (I've never trusted an Edmund since my young years of Narnia), and the probability of his guilt. Surprisingly I was left in doubt until the last chapter [...]

  • Jill Hutchinson

    A young pregnant servant girl, Jane Clouson, is found brutally murdered and thus begins an inadequate police investigation that causes the reader to shake his/her head. But more is yet to come when the suspect's trial begins and the vaunted English court system takes over. I looked at this book as more a study of the class system and the justice system than a true life murder in Victorian England. Society was made up of the "haves" and the "have nots" and the murder of a "have not" did not get m [...]

  • Chris

    I had heard of this murder before reading this book.This book is great. Murphy's research is great. More importantly he places the murder in context, touching not just on the justice system of the time, but also on the role of maids of all work, class, publishing, and lawyers. It is a really great look at a case and totally well done.

  • Cleo Bannister

    This historical true crime happened in 1871 in the Greenwich are of Victorian London. Poor Jane Coulson had been found in a terrible state with her face bashed in on a footpath by a policeman following his beat in the area. The girl was at last unidentified so extreme were her facial injuries and in the week or so that it took to discover who she was a few other girls, sadly of disrepute, were named as the victim. Eventually the truth was discovered but Jane Coulson didn’t, couldn’t, survive [...]

  • Charlene

    Somewhat interesting, especially the parts that included in depth explanations about what investigative tools were available at the time this murder was committed. The author did a great job of conveying what society was like, what policing was like (If you are shocked by the constant miscarriages of justice uncovered by the Innocence Project, you would be horrified of what passed for evidence back in the day), relations between servants and the upper class, relationship between police and citiz [...]

  • Mandy

    Probably more like 2.5 stars for me.This was okay at the beginning, the middle dragged along and the conclusion predictable.Very informative throughout, sometimes a little too much, for example when he first introduced someone into the narrative, the author always included something about them or their life, which wasn't relevant to the story and ,I felt, didn't need to be in the book. The court scenes should have been fascinating, instead I thought they were plain boring. His depiction of the l [...]

  • Lenoire

    A haunting tale of a woman who was found brutalized beyond recognition and the journey of finding her killer. The woman was found on the verge of death, crying out "let me die" before slipping into a coma and perishing five days later. However, her identity is unknown along with the motive and her murderer. After top lead detective, John Mulvany was on the case, they were able to establish her identity. Jane Maria Clouson was a maid for the prestigious Pook family and she was also two months pre [...]

  • Amy Sturgis

    This is a solid work -- I would give it a 3.5 if I could -- exploring the brutal 1871 murder of a pregnant, teenage "maid of all work" in London and the subsequent investigation into her case, court battle(s) related to it, and their aftermath. Murphy highlights the flaws in the investigation (both from contemporary standards and those of our time), the social and economic forces at work on popular opinion, and the twists and turns in the legal drama that followed. He also reviews the evidence i [...]

  • Daphne

    Quite well written and researched Victorian true crime. I'm such a sucker for those. The author's first book Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy really impressed me, and this one isn't any different. Paul Thomas Murphy is definitely and author on my list of those I watch out for new releases from.

  • Helen Carolan

    What an interesting true crime from the Victorian Era. While there seemed one suspect, the evidence against him was flimsy and in a court case, he was acquitted. A great Victorian crime-themed read.

  • Megan

    So good and I wanna know who really killed her.

  • The Irregular Reader

    In 1871, a young, pretty servant girl was found ruthlessly beaten in a country lane. Jane Clouson died a few days later without regaining consciousness. When the son of her employer falls under suspicion for her murder, the subsequent police investigation and trial spark unrest between the working class and the middle class residents of London. Jane, unremarkable and overlooked in life, became a powerful symbol of the suffering of working class girls, and the easy power of their “betters.”Pr [...]

  • Ellen Klock

    Life was different in the English Victorian age. There were the gentry, but there was also the merchant class as well as they who were the poor. Anyone considered the middle class had a servant who served more like a slave, doing the bidding of the household from cooking to cleaning to laundry to emptying out the chamber pots. It was a hard life, but with large families to feed, the children were expected to make their own way once they reached the age of twelve. Many girls, unable to find work [...]

  • Heather

    I had the pleasure of reading Paul Thomas Murphy's "Shooting Victoria" last year and really enjoyed it. So when I saw his latest book pop up on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it. When I was approved for a copy, I started reading it right away and devoured it. This is another great one by Murphy.I expected this to be just about the murder of Jane, but Murphy dives in deep. Not only do we get a fascinating account of the events surrounding Jane's actual murder, but we follow the court battle a [...]

  • Jennifer

    In 1871, outside of London, Jane Clousen was discovered barely alive, with her head and face bashed in almost beyond recognition. Weeks later police arrested local swell Edmund Pook and charged him with her murder based on mostly circumstantial evidence. Author Paul Thomas Murphy has sifted meticulously through court transcripts, correspondence, newspaper reports, and other contemporary documents to determine the truth behind what happened that night on Kidbrooke Lane.Pretty Jane and the Viper o [...]

  • Lori Shafer

    Pretty Janeis a true crime novel based in Victorian England. From the very beginning, the story intrigued me. As i read the day to day accounting of the case, I was simply amazed. Where did Murphy get his information? The tiniest details of a scrap of material was found by someone days after the body and how it was treated and handled. How can you find that information? It was just his type of clues and accounts that I found awing. The characters were so real. The tragedy of Jane's death and the [...]

  • sappho_reader

    On April 26th 1871 young Jane Maria Clouson was found bludgeoned near death in a London road. This is a true account of her unsolved murder and the false trial of the main suspect Edmund Pook. The police did a horrendous job in their investigation and Pook was ultimately acquitted of the crime. What I found most fascinating is how society at large was so consumed by this murder and others during the same period and how people seemed to take the verdict so personally that they hounded the Pook fa [...]

  • Katrina

    Interesting murder case, but not super well written. So glad the author revealed his theory at the end, but I was hoping for more explanation.

  • Dale

    The 1871 murder trial that shook England!My thanks go out to all my contacts at Pegasus Books for my copy of this collection of vampire stories! Thank you so much!On April 26, 1871, a policeman discovered a young woman in the darkness of Kidbrooke Lane in London. She was barely alive, having been beaten severely with what later proved to be a hammer used in lathe-work. She had missing pieces of skull and jaw and her brains were exposed. Five days later she succumbed to her wounds.Her words befor [...]

  • Helen

    A gruesome murder in Victorian London (or perhaps this counted as Kent at that time - Greenwich/Deptford/Eltham/Lewisham area). Jane Maria Clousen, a 16 year old maid of all work, was found horribly battered but still alive on what was then a lonely country lane, and died a few days later. She was 2 months pregnant, allegedly by the son of the household where she had worked, and he was the main suspect. He was, however, acquitted, and nobody else was ever brought to trial. The book explores the [...]

  • Sheila

    Jane Clouson is found on Kidbrooke Lane dying after a vicious beating. She is taken to the hospital where she later dies. The police now have to find the murderer. As they look at her short life and listen to what her friends have to say they believe they have found their murderer and arrest him. Next comes the court of law and the court of public opinion.This is interesting. Mr. Murphy uses modern forensic techniques to review the case and show who the murderer is. Unfortunately, forensic scien [...]

  • Toni

    I was more fascinated with this true-life crime than I would have imagined. With the hindsight of 147 years and advanced technology, it amazes me how the basis of our legal system(s), police crime-solving procedures and human fallibility/motivations remain relatively current in Victorian England. Even pre-Victorian, I am intrigued to research moreLike I mentioned, this crime happened 147 years ago yet it happened yesterday (sic) and the same procedures or judicial errors are still be repeated. W [...]

  • Donie Nelson

    I confess: I love true crime stories and hoped that this Victorian shocker would keep me awake. If you have insomnia, reading this book may not be a cure, but it's cheaper than a prescription. The writing is repetitious, which may have been in keeping with Victorian stylistic choices, but I was looking for a compelling storyline and time travel back to the 1800s. Instead, the facts of the case, the personalities and the problems of the main characters, and each and every event is repeated, repea [...]

  • Kevin Thomas Barnes

    I was happy to find this book. I like to read about old cases that are not solved. I can see why it was a scandal at the time. The story was well written and I felt well researched. I would love to hear what happened with the two Lady defendants. What became of their life after their trials. The book held me through till the end, but I do not agree with the Authors conclusions as to if he was guilty or not. Regardless I am still thinking about this book and I can see the Authors point of view on [...]

  • Rebecca

    This reads a bit like "Law&Order: 1871," and that works for it. Murphy's presentation of the facts and why they should still matter to us is interesting and makes for good reading, and there's a definite timeliness to the death of poor Jane that still speaks to what happens today when a woman not of the upper class is killed.

  • Lynne

    An erudite exploration into the brutal murder of Victorian maid of all work, Jane Coulson in the 1870 and, thankfully, lacking in overwrought sensationalism. Very well researched, although the narrative style has element of the ponderous at time, this is a small gem, unearthed in a recent Works sell-off. Bargain.

  • Mariann

    This book was interesting in the beginning when the murder was being discussed but then it became very dry and confusing during the trial. The author also decided to discuss other murders that occurred at the same time and while they were interesting, I wish he had omitted them and stuck to the original story. 2 1/2 stars.

  • Pauline Chamberlain

    An ok true life Victorian whodunnit

  • Heidi Brown Lynn

    Not just a story about a little-known, though then infamous, crime, but a fascinating story about social inequality and the Victorian court systems.