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Great and Horrible News: Murder and Mayhem in Early Modern Britain

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Instead I’ve picked a few examples to try to give a flavour of how Adams tells each story and uses it to take us deep into the culture of the period. From early 'baby farms' to political deaths to the consequences of suicide, the cases all vary and take the reader back to this time when social mores and laws were quite different to today and where we see the beginnings of forensic science. She argues that this period, 1500-1700, saw the beginnings of a secular, scientific approach to investigation, with increasing reliance on physical evidence, influenced by the cultural changes that accompanied the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.

They were then reviled by the rest of society including their neighbours for their 'moral failings', whilst guess what happened to the men? The stories go into detail the law that was broken- at times by both the victim and the perpetrator- and raised the question of whether the actual law had, in part, helped cause the crime itself. The murder is gruesomely told as it was in the pamphlets of the time, and the investigation seems efficient and surprisingly similar to modern investigations, relying on physical clues, witnesses, background checks on suspects, etc. If I have a criticism, it’s that sometimes I felt she perhaps embellished the bare bones a little to improve the storytelling aspects – I wondered more than once how she could have known what someone’s motivation was or how she could be so sure what had happened when she didn’t cite a specific source.Adams dissects nine cases of varying degrees of murder and their profound impact on the public, using each case as a signpost for shifting attitudes towards moralism throughout the time period. My favourites were probably the ones where we have records to show the families of the deceased making every effort to prove their child's innocence or bring their murderer to justice. To access your ebook(s) after purchasing, you can download the free Glose app or read instantly on your browser by logging into Glose.

There’s so much packed into each of the nine cases that I’m not even going to try to cover it all here.Very interesting and easy to read accounts of murder, crime and punishment in 1500-1700, particularly interesting were the accounts of trials.

Adams explores the period 1500-1700 as the true beginning to a true crime obsession in Britain - where the public still took a vested interest in grisly crimes and their inhumane repercussions, but with the interesting nuance of society’s shift to empirical evidence ushered in from the Enlightenment period. It’s informative and interesting, and it’s also a little appalling to see perspectives from the 1600s coming back into fashion today. And of course all of this is complicated by the final case explored, which highlights that sometimes suicide was viewed as not only acceptable, but noble. Adams doesn’t shy away from inserting her own modern hindsight and bias which I actually found refreshing - especially since at its core this book is all about reaction and opinion.Adams shows that while in general the public strongly disapproved of suicide, honourable suicide often met with a more sympathetic reaction.

She takes us beyond Nathaniel's conviction to his time in Newgate, describing the appalling conditions in which prisoners were kept. We untangle the mystery of a suspected staged suicide through the newly emerging science of forensic pathology. Great and Horrible News explores the strange history of death and murder in early modern England, yet the stories within may appear shockingly familiar. She explains the need for him to be “converted” to satisfy the prevailing religious agenda, and how this was achieved. I found it interesting about how suspicious deaths were investigated and what type of 'forensics' were available to them at the time.I knocked my rating down from 5 stars because quite a few of the examples were about suicide, and it'd have been nice to have a bit more variety.

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