The British have apparently long been fascinated with crime and criminals, from the crowds that would gleefully gather to watch public executions hundreds of years ago right up to the Sunday night telly watcher, inhaling the latest series of Sherlock. In A Very British Murder, Lucy Worsley – she who’s also regularly on telly as one of its more engaging historians – looks at the British appetite for murders most foul, and how those appetites have affected and evolved our most popular forms of entertainment. Taking in penny dreadfuls, puppet shows, popular songs, gothic melodramas and detective novels, more than one spoiler is dropped about the plots and denouements of many classics of these genres, so some readers should take care if they have a any of these classics on their to-be-read shelves.
While A Very British Murder was indeed interesting – particularly when it came to the evolution of types of crime throughout the ages, and (of course) the chapters dealing with the Victorian age were also a bright spot, ushering in the birth of new detectives to catch the very criminals that most were reading about (as well as that being reflected in new fictional counterparts) – I nevertheless couldn’t quite get as into it as I’d hoped I would. Maybe I’ve lost my reading mojo again as this is the second book in a row that I should have loved but didn’t, but ultimately it was a slimline book that took a long time to finish, thanks to my attention constantly wandering away from what I was reading about.