The Murder that Defeated Whitechapel's Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
At Mrs Ridgley’s Corner
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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.
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.Rosie Writes, Rosemarie Cawkwell
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'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.'Criminal Historian Blog
For the full review click here
'Book Life' – The best of this month's Herts-linked books and book news as featured byHertfordshire 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.Mr. R. D. M. Kirby - Reviewed on Amazon
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.
As featured inTrue Crime Library, Bulletin No. 471
Click here to listenBBC Three Counties, 10th May 2018
Note: set cursor to 2:40:35 for interview
Article: 'A cornershop murder case that Scotland Yard's finest couldn't crack' by JP Asher as featured byThe Comet, April 2018