The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders 1811

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Faber & Faber, Dec 15, 2011 - True Crime - 400 pages

In 1811 John Williams was buried with a stake in his heart. Was he the notorious East End killer or his eighth victim in the bizarre and shocking Ratcliffe Highway Murders? In this vivid and gripping reconstruction P. D. James and police historian T. A. Critchley draw on forensics, public records, newspaper clippings and hitherto unpublished sources, expertly sifting the evidence to shed new light on this infamous Wapping mystery.

This true crime novel begins amid the horror of a dark, wintry London in the year 1811. Using elegant historical detection P.D. James and police historian T.A. Critchley piece together new and unpublished sources in an original portrayal of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.

P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley and Children of Men, here explores the mysterious and intense emotions responsible for the unique crime of murder, with authority and sensitivity. Her only work of true crime, this novel uses forensics, unpublished sources and forgotten documents to create a vivid image of early-nineteenth century London and a gripping reconstruction of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

Being an armchair detective (of very limited abilities), I grabbed this book the moment I found it in my friend Big Dave's library. Considering the crime was already 160 years old when this book was ... Read full review

THE MAUL AND THE PEAR TREE: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811

User Review  - Kirkus

A true tale of murder most foul in Regency London in which James' mystery-writing witchery is joined with Critchley's police history know-how. In December, 1811, seven members of two households were ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

P. D. James was a bestselling and internationally acclaimed crime writer. She was the creator of Adam Dalgliesh and Cordelia Gray, and their long and successful series of mysteries. Her works include Cover Her Face (1962), An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972), Innocent Blood (1980), Children of Men (1992), and the Jane Austen-inspired Death Comes to Pemberley (2011).

James was born in Oxford in 1920. She won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award. She received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983 and created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors, and stood down from this role in 2013.

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