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Charlie Peace (Paperback)

Murder, Mayhem and the Master of Disguise

True Crime Biographies

By Ben Johnson
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781473862982
Published: 1st August 2016

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Radio Interview

  • Listen to Ben Johnson on BBC Radio Sheffield hosted by Rony Robinson (commences 1:36.00 - ends 1:44:30)
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A devil once lived in God’s own county. A grotesque figure with many names and many faces, he could slip into the home of an unsuspecting family with the silent stealth of a cool night time breeze, and leave without a trace.
Spending his nocturnal hours limping through the dirty streets with villainy on his mind, and impishly disappearing into the industrial smoke that hung over Victorian Sheffield like a perpetual storm cloud, this was a devil who was to write his own place in the folklore of his home town.

Despite his fearsome reputation, this was a devil of flesh and blood. He was just a man, but a man with an unrivalled talent in the dark art of criminality and such was his fame for murder and mayhem, that he was the most wanted man in England for a time.

Tales of burglary, murder, daring escapes, and a truly shocking miscarriage of justice feature in this biography, along with moments of lost love, damaged pride, and violent revenge. It is a story of a man who had turned to crime through necessity, but consciously chose to continue in an ever spiralling life of wickedness.

Once immortalised in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, his gnarled and prematurely aged features would be the last image his victims ever saw, yet ironically, he was known by the name of Peace.

Author Ben W. Johnson became fascinated by this story and his book, Charlie Peace: Murder, Mayhem and the Master of Disguise, brings this intriguing tale onto our bookshelves and into our modern-day kindle devices. His style is light and refreshing, producing an engaging book and an interesting read from start to finish.

Ben Johnson has pieced together the life of Charlie Peace, from his childhood in the 1840’s in Sheffield, England through to his death in the gallows of London in 1879 aged just 47 years old. This story reads effortlessly through flowing narrative without any dalliance into distracting detail, simply a focus on the story and on the man who was Charlie Peace.

Click me to read the full review.

Crime Traveller, reviewed by Fiona Guy

As featured in

Ripperologist, August 2016 - Paul Begg

The author though he adds the caveat he should not be admired, describes Peace as a criminal genius which is an overemphasis of the skill needed to be a burglar and killer and given he spent so much time in prison. He did of course murder, was caught and executed. The author also writes that for every time he was caught, he had committed several over offences for which he was not identified or charged. That is nothing new; that is quite the norm. Not many if any criminals get convicted for every offence they commit. The author concludes that Peace’s terrible crimes should not be celebrated but the extraordinary life should be remembered by, “ink and paper so they may not be repeated in flesh and blood.”

Robert Bartlett, Police History Society

About Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is a freelance writer, columnist and sub-editor. He currently writes for two true crime magazines, and has a first class Honours degree in Journalism from Sheffield Hallam University. It was while studying court reporting that he found his love for the dark subject of true crime, and since these days of sitting at cold, silent press benches, has been a prolific writer, with articles being published on both sides of the Atlantic.

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