The volume starts with the mysterious murder of Mary Ashford in 1817 and follows a trail of mayhem through the Victorian and Edwardian eras to the controversial execution of the young James Farrell in 1949. These accounts of our past are drawn from contemporary newspapers and periodicals, reflecting the way our attitudes to different crimes and punishments have changed over the years. The long debate about capital punishment is brought into focus by the public reaction to each new death sentence. Unlike the first volume, almost every case examined concludes on the scaffold. The stories encompass jealousy, lust, anger and greed - some things just never change. The city itself gradually grew from the green fields of Erdington that Mary Ashford knew, to the grim warrens of back-to-backs that housed Harry Jones and other ne'er-do-wells, but underneath normal city life there has always been those few crazed characters ready to explode into a lethal frenzy. They have carved themselves a place in local history, usually with a wickedly sharp knife. Here too are the vicious thugs whose violent robberies left widows and orphans in their wake, whether in 1830s or 1930s.
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About the Author
Nick Billingham specializes in Military History.