Pre-publication Book Review: MURDER BY THE BOOK by Claire Harman

MURDER BY THE BOOK: The crime that shocked Victorian literary London by Claire Harman

cover149000-mediumMy Rating: 💙💙

Format: Advance Digital Review Copy (Ebook)

Publisher: Penguin Books (UK), Viking

Genres: Adult Non-Fiction , True Crime, Victorian Crime

Synopsis/Blurb (taken from NetGalley):

“Early in the morning of 6 May 1840, on an ultra-respectable Mayfair street, a footman answered the door to a panic-stricken maid from a nearby house. Her elderly master, Lord William Russell, was lying in bed with his throat cut so deeply that the head was almost severed.

The whole of London, from monarch to street urchins, was gripped by the gory details of the Russell murder, but behind it was another story, a work of fiction, and a fierce debate about censorship and morality. Several of the key literary figures of the day, including Dickens and Thackeray, were drawn into the controversy, and when Lord William’s murderer claimed to having been inspired by the season’s most sensational novel, it seemed that a great deal more was on trial than anyone could have guessed.

Bringing together much previously unpublished material from a wide range of sources, Claire Harman reveals the story of the notorious Russell murder case and its fascinating connections with the writers and literary culture of the day. Gripping and eye-opening, Murder by the Book is the untold true story of a surprisingly literary crime.”


My Thoughts & Review

UMMM, where to start!!!

Think I will start by telling you how I came to reading this book. It all started like this. One day I sat down on my bed with my laptop and was supposed to be working on another review for a book I had been approved from NetGalley, I logged into the site to double check something about the book I was reviewing, but instead I ended up scrolling through NetGalley and came across this book. I saw the title and cover and couldn’t help myself, I clicked on the request button and a few hours later I was approved. Now the thing is I had no idea what the book was about, and after finishing the book I think I should have read the description first. (I’m sure I’ve said before that I wouldn’t request a book again until reading the description, I never learn). Now skip a few weeks after downloading the book and reading finishing it last week, here I am with this review.

This was an interesting read that left me with mixed feelings. I don’t know whether I enjoyed this book or not it’s hard to explain. The opening chapter grabbed my attention, but sadly as I read on I started to lose interest in the book. At times I felt there could have been a little less Victorian details and more of the crime element. For me the book wasn’t gripping enough.

The writing style took me a while to get used to and I felt that at times the book didn’t flow as smoothly as other books I have read based in this time period.

The storyline/plot of this book has the potential to be really good but unfortunately something was missing. I think more attention to the crime would have made it more interesting and gripping for me.

There were some interesting characters in this book, and some that I even liked, but beware there are a lot of characters in this book, and if you’re like me then you will get confused muddled up with them all.

Sadly, this book wasn’t for me but there’s nothing to say you won’t enjoy it more than I did, and therefore I do recommend that you give it a try especially if you are a fan of Victorian True Crime.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Books (UK), Viking for this eARC in return for an honest and unbiased review.

This book will be published and available to buy on

25th October 2018


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