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The Murder that Defeated Whitechapel's Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)

At Mrs Ridgley’s Corner

British History True Crime London 20th Century England

By Paul Stickler
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 187
ISBN: 9781526733856
Published: 16th April 2018

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In 1919, when a shopkeeper and her dog were found dead in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with brutal head injuries, there followed an extraordinary catalogue of events and a local police investigation which concluded that both had died as a result of a tragic accident. A second investigation by Scotland Yard led to the arrest of an Irish war veteran, but the outcome was far from conclusive.

Written from the perspective of the main characters involved and drawing on original and newly-discovered material, this book exposes the frailties of county policing just after the First World War and how it led to fundamental changes in methods of murder investigations.

Offering a unique balance of story-telling and analysis, the book raises a number of unanswered questions. These are dealt with in the final chapter by the author’s commentary drawing upon his expertise.

The author takes the reader through the investigation in great detail using records from the time period and trial transcripts as much as possible. This crime took place 100 years ago but boy how things have changed since them. This book would be a great pick for true crime lovers or anyone interested in police work.

Read the full review here

A Line From A Book, Jennifer Sahmoun

The writer has done a great deal of research and his skill as a writer is evidenced in the way he seamlessly creates an involving narrative that never calls undue attention to it.

Read the full review here

Author Translator, Olga Nunez Miret

Article: 'Hitchin murder author appears on Dan Snow podcast exactly 100 years after unsolved crime took place' as featured by

The Comet, 25th January 2019 – words by Dan Mountney

As featured on

History Hit Podcast

This is a quick read, being a mere 187 pages, and it will keep you guessing, and questioning. The photos add to the mystery. Paul Stickler has done an intense job of research into Mrs. Ridgley's murder/accidental fall. Who knows..and the mystery continues!

Ellie Potts Barrett

Paul Stickler describes the events of February to July 1919 from the point of view of the participants and then provides a chapter of commentary on the investigation, the trial and questions that weren’t answered. The storytelling is very effective and the commentary thoughtful, bringing up important questions and setting the crime in the context of Britain in 1919. A useful insight into the time and place, as well as policing in the counties in the early twentieth century.

Read the full review here

Rosie Writes, Rosemarie Cawkwell

'Stickler’s professional experience results in a book where you feel he has really attempted to get under the skin of the investigating police – to see what they saw, to analyse the evidence, and to point the reader in the right direction.'

For the full review click here

Criminal Historian Blog

'Book Life' – The best of this month's Herts-linked books and book news as featured by

Hertfordshire Life, August 2018

★★★★★ ...this is a well-written and well-researched book. There were a number of well-publicised murder investigations in the early 20th Century and although this was not one of them, many of those cases were undertaken by the Yard’s foremost detective, Fred Wensley, as he did on this occasion.

In 1919, a woman who owned a shop in Hertfordshire was found battered to death, as was her dog. The initial investigation was horrendous; the local uniform superintendent wrote this off as an accident, which prompted the county’s chief constable to ask for Scotland Yard’s assistance and Wensley was sent, some 10 days later. It’s not a spoiler to say that Wensley was unsuccessful – that’s contained in the book’s title – but this book explains why and whilst much of Paul Stickler’s information has come from the depositions used in the case, it doesn’t read as though he’s quoting directly from the statements. He has written a very clever narrative which draws the reader into the investigation and which makes this a very readable book, indeed.

Read the complete review online here.

Mr. R. D. M. Kirby - Reviewed on Amazon

As featured in

True Crime Library, Bulletin No. 471

Click here to listen

Note: set cursor to 2:40:35 for interview

BBC Three Counties, 10th May 2018

Article: 'A cornershop murder case that Scotland Yard's finest couldn't crack' by JP Asher as featured by

The Comet, April 2018

About Paul Stickler

Paul Stickler joined Hampshire Constabulary in 1978 and spent the majority of his time in CID. He spent many years involved in murder investigations and was seconded to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia to study international perspectives of crime investigation. Since his retirement in 2008 he has combined his professional knowledge with his passion for history, researching murders in the first half of the twentieth century. He spends his days delivering lectures to a wide range of audiences. More can be found out about him on his website: www.historicalmurders.com

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