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The Maul and the Pear Tree
     

The Maul and the Pear Tree

by P. D. James, T. A. Critchley
 

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In this riveting true crime account, acclaimed author P. D. James, the "Queen of the English mystery novel" (Newsweek) joins forces with historian T. A. Critchley to re-create the Radcliffe Highway murders, a series of vicious crimes committed in 1811 ... The scene is the London Docks near Wapping Old Stairs, a sinister neighborhood where pirates were often hanged.

Overview

In this riveting true crime account, acclaimed author P. D. James, the "Queen of the English mystery novel" (Newsweek) joins forces with historian T. A. Critchley to re-create the Radcliffe Highway murders, a series of vicious crimes committed in 1811 ... The scene is the London Docks near Wapping Old Stairs, a sinister neighborhood where pirates were often hanged. The first victims were two hardworking shopkeepers, along with their baby and shop boy. Twelve days later and only a few blocks away, an equally blameless pub owner was found together with his wife and servant, victims of equal cruelty and apparent absence of motive. The serial killings provoked nationwide notoriety and panic. With the atmosphere and pacing of her best novels, James reveals the rudimentary police system of Regency London coping with a major murder investigation — and crimes that rank up there with Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler, and Son of Sam as the very symbol of murderous and unthinking brutality.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1811, London's East End was the scene of a series of murders so brutal and irrational that they caused panic throughout the city, which lacked a central police force. This engrossing account, marking the American nonfiction debut of British mystery novelist James, details the seven vicious (``brains battered out and throats butchered''), apparently motiveless slayings (which occurred first in a linen shop, then, days later, in a nearby pub); the confused efforts of local ``police'' groups; and the cases' suspiciously abrupt closing after suspect John Williams, a seaman and lodger at the Pear Tree public house, committed suicide in jail, thereby sealing his ``guilt'' and prompting a bizarre parade of his corpse (together with a murderous maul) throughout the city. James and police historian Critchley use documents and contemporary news accounts splendidly, pointing up the incompetence of the investigators and offering an intriguing view of what really happened. First published in Britain in 1971, this will certainly please James's following here. (March 25)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446679213
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/01/2002
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
563,231
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Respected as one of the greats of modern crime writing, Phyllis Dorothy James (1920-2014), known as P. D. James, came to fame for her mystery series starring New Scotland Yard Commander and poet, Adam Dalgliesh. She was also the author of a number of stand-along novels including The Children of Men, which was the basis for the movie Children of Men, and Death Comes to Pemberly, which was adapted into a BBC mini-series. Many of her Adam Dalgliesh books were also adapted for television. In 1991 she was created Baroness James of Holland Park. She died in 2014.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
August 3, 1920
Place of Birth:
Oxford, England
Education:
Attended the Cambridge High School for Girls from 1931 to 1937 and later took evening classes in hospital administration

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