Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Lewisham & Deptford
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While there are some useful period photographs, there are far more modern ones, which is hardly helpful in giving an impression of what an area might have been like when the events occurred. I read this as research for a new role-playing campaign , and it did its job: there's good material here on police procedure and the tracks their investigations tended to run in, as well as the sort of people who became victims of unsolved crime — and other details, like where the grotty neighbourhoods were in this era.
I'd really like more of this and less of the specific cases, but the book was still a good starting point. I would have thought that in the majority of cases in which the victim was respectable, he or she will have been reported to the police as missing, so if a corpse which answered that description turned up within a reasonable time and distance, they'd probably think it might be him or her and check. Getting someone dead from one place to another unnoticed would be difficult before motor-cars were easily available to the poor criminal, and luring a live victim to Limehouse said at a venture from Regent's Park risked his telling other people where he would be going that evening.
During the 30s my father, between the ages of ten and eighteen, was allowed to roam London as he pleased, travelling for instance from Dulwich to Camden on his own and on foot or if he could afford it catching a bus.
It seems to have been regarded as a much safer place anywhere but the docks, at least by my carefree grandparents. Perhaps it was safe for the respectable, so long as they stayed out of slums. Fair point. The contemporary examples of descriptions that Oates gives are from witnesses describing a person they'd seen in passing, not from policemen examining a body at length, so I don't know how accurate or recognisable the latter might have been. It might also depend at what level things were dealt with: if a beat bobby in Limehouse came across someone in workmen's clothes smelling of booze, head bashed in and left in an alley with nothing in his pockets, would it necessarily get far enough up the chain of command to someone who was reading descriptions of missing persons from the other side of London?
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I'm sure that in theory that sort of thing was meant to happen, but in practice I just don't have the primary sources. Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one. A number of suspects produced as alibi a confession to a lesser crime, as for example: One Edward Hooper, a Scot and an army deserter, had a track record of breaking into houses for shelter.
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Tags: non-fiction reading reviews Posted by Chris at am on 05 October " Whether any enterprising criminal chose to dump his respectable victim in such a place, we shall never know. One should remember a certain story by Sayers, I think. One way or another, we all fascinated by crime.
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