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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

Monday, 28 July 2014

"The Policeman and the brothel" by Theodore Dalrymple

In Victorian Jersey the amateur police force had to deal with a cluster of 3 murders in 3 months, the last being the fatal stabbing of a volunteer policeman by a brothel 'madam'. Dalrymple probes into this crime wave.

Except this is scarcely forensic history. rather, these events provide a springboard for Dalrymple to muse, somewhat at random, about the efficacy of the death penalty, police corruption then and now, morality and the press, and whatever else takes his fancy.

What else is he to do? There is no mystery about the crimes, no element of 'who really dunnit?'. The culprits are obvious. There is some investigation as to whether one of the murderers was insane within the meaning of the law but little else. There is an attempt, eventually, to trace what happened to those transported for life. But there is not enough material here to base a book. It should have been a pamphlet. Instead, Dalrymple pads it out with his political views. He also quotes newspaper articles verbatim and court transcripts verbatim to give himself many extra pages.

The book should have been (less than) half the length.

July 2014; 215 pages


  1. It may not seem like the stories warranted such a large book, but for myself, one of the literally hundreds of descendants of Thomas Nicolle, one of the transportee's in the book, this is a doorway into the part of our family history we had little knowledge of, after all, Thomas was semi illiterate, and as he was a Convict in Tasmania, his past was never spoken about by his descendants. Personally, we would have liked the book to have been a series so we could have learnt more about his past and the place he came from. On a sub note, one of Thomas' descendants married one of the prostitutes descendants years later in Tasmania.