The Victorian Detective
This slim little volume was a surprise – I expected a work on Victorian detectives to be a great deal more substantial. With a very high illustration to word percentage, this book begins with a brief overview, then moves on to short sections on Bow Street, the detective branch of the Metropolitan police, the “Prince of Detectives” (i.e., Jonathan Whicher), terrorists, and CSI.
The book lacks cohesion, and is basically a conglomeration of facts and cases strung randomly together. Various detectives are mentioned with little or no biographical background, the cases in which they figured are likewise haphazard – some are explained, others are not, just a few words on how a murderer was apprehended, but no real details of the crime or its motivation. All of this makes for a read that is disjointed and less informative than it could’ve been. The book also seems hastily turned out – there are multiple typos. The illustrations (photos, portraits, engravings from contemporary newspapers and broadsides) are interesting, and perhaps worth one’s time more than the text.