John Tawell was a wannabe Quaker who had been transported to Sydney for forgery, made his fortune, and returned to become a respectable citizen. Except he had a mistress and two illegitimate children whom he kept at Salt Hill near Slough. When she died horribly, shortly after he was seen to leave her house, he was arrested for murder (thanks to the new invention of the telegraph which could travel faster than the train from Slough to Paddington). This is the tale of the investigation and trial.
It is brilliantly written. Baxter uses all the original source material and then reconstructs them into a narrative. After the initial excitement of the crime and the chase she dives back into Tawell's life and the original crime which led to transportation. We find out about conditions in New South Wales during the convict era. Then we follow the investigation and the details of toxicology tests in the earliest days of forensic science. There follows a courtroom drama. Baxter writes fluently and with clarity and the pace never stops.
A great example of the genre. June 2014; 349 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57