Crime and Punishment in Victorian London
A Street-level View of the City's Underworld
Tales of crime-ridden slums and the activities of pickpockets, garotters, swindlers and pornographers loomed large in the minds of Victorian Londoners, and those aspects of the city's past continue to fascinate today's readers of historical fiction. Novelist Ross Gilfillan presents his research into the real-life stories of London's poorest and most desperate residents in the mid 19th century, and describes the authorities' changing approaches to the prevention and punishment of crime.
Beggars, Cheats and Forgers
A History of Frauds Through the Ages
Identity theft and pyramid schemes seem very modern problems, but such scams rely on the same techniques that have been used by fraudsters throughout history to exploit their victims' greed, vanity or naivety. David Thomas has delved into the National Archives to uncover the stories behind a host of cons, forged documents and fraudulent beggars – as well as a 70-year spate of 'Spanish prisoner' letters, the Victorian ancestors of today's emails from Nigerian princes.
Pinkerton's Great Detective
The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland
Created in 1850, Pinkerton's National Detective Agency used operatives renowned for their skills of subterfuge, infiltration and investigation – and none more so than James McParland, who even featured in a Sherlock Holmes story. This detailed but very readable biography from the author of Nimrod charts the famous cases of this real-life super-sleuth, including his infiltration of the Molly Maguires and his hunt for the Wild Bunch, and sheds new light on Pinkerton's cloak-and-dagger methods.