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text 2015-12-25 18:39
Just Tell Me There Is No Murder Poetry Now...
The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock - Lucy Worsley

This is one of those books I enjoy a lot (still not done yet) but wonder if others would like it as much. Mainly because Worsley doesn't go into minute details on all of the historic murders themselves - you get the what was done and how - but she's focusing more on the social reactions, not just the crime. Which is fine because she also leads you to other books that will give you more detail if you're interested. (I was kinda gleeful that I'd already read some she cited. I'm such a history fangirl.) And there's always wikipedia for a quick review.


Which brings me to the 1823 Elstree Murder, or Radlett Murder. (Elstree had other murders, so you can see the need to clarify.) And this poem/song:


They cut his throat from ear to ear,
His head they battered in.
His name was Mr William Weare,
He lived in Lyons Inn.


Whatever you think of the tabloid/internet press today, at least it's not posting little songs for us all to sing about the latest murders. Which, in the age where not everyone could read, street ballads (broadsides) would do for you. You'd nip into the street (or send your child, servant, etc.), purchase a copy, and then be able to learn it and sing it to an already known tune. Which you could then share at the pub or, I dunno, sing around the family hearth? I've read a bit about street ballads but besides the pubs and streets I'm not sure where you'd end up singing them. Meanwhile, now we have youtube, but thankfully I've never bumped into any area where folk are singing current-day murder songs. (Moment of gratitude here.)


If you want to check out the contents of this book via Worsley's documentary on the subject, I'd definitely encourage you to try it - it's the gist of what the text covers. (And again BBC, I'd pay money to watch this stuff, but it's always years later that it pops up on PBS here in the states.) This search should lead you to it: Lucy Worsley English Murder (The bit about street ballads is in part one.)


Bookwise I'm still on the section where she's discussing the Golden Age of Mystery Writers, specifically the women. And enjoying it hugely. Huzzah for self-gifted books!

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review 2012-07-04 00:00
The Devil and Preston Black (Murder Ball... The Devil and Preston Black (Murder Ballads and Whiskey) - Jason Jack Miller Synopsis:Life of Preston Black has never been easy but when he reaches 27 everything seems to be going to the devil double fast. He is a musician and all of a sudden his beloved band is falling apart - the drummer, Stu, is being sent to Afganistan and Pauly, his foster brother, decides he’s had enough of drinking and playing covers. Then Preston falls in love with Dani, a mysterious woman from the Czech Republic who works as a translator and, like him, has no family of her own; although she readily offers him a warm bed and a meal when he needs it the most she also starts cheating on him from the very beginning. Maybe she acts strange because she is from Europe or maybe she considers Preston to be just another nice white trash boy? Anyway she turns his life upside down like a force of nature.Then he finds in a record store a very strange and pessimistic song about the devil and Preston Black. He buys the record and keeps wondering – just a coincidence or a pointer leading to his unknown father? Is it the right time to start anew or maybe to cash in the chips like many other more famous and more successful musicians before? Who keeps sending him strange texts from an unknown number? Preston decides to try once again – he sells his old instruments, buys a new, acoustic guitar and heads south to find an old singer who knows the rest of that elusive song and maybe also his destiny. Will the Devil follow him? Who will control his life? Can things go even more wrong? Yes, they can.What I liked:It was a good interesting story, smoothly told in limited first person. It was gritty, without any maudlin moments - maybe because of that I felt for Preston almost all the time. He seemed so lost and so twisted despite the fact that he just wanted to make a career as an independent musician. Katy, his other romantic interest, was nice as well – she was such a sweet contrast to that absinthe- swilling, unstable smart-pants Dani. I also liked the fact that there was no baddie here. The devil was in people, including the main character, bad and good people but mostly ordinary people who tried very hard to be good but still managed only average. Preston, deep in the doldrums says: “My life had become a Chinese take-out fortune, a receipt for a guitar that cost way too much money, a thirty characters text, a name no a faded concert flier stuck to a light pole with rusty nails, footprints disappearing with the melting snow, a black and white picture in a high school year book.”That’s the start of pure evil – feeling you are worth nothing at all. I also learned a lot – those differenty types of guitars were a bit misleading at first (especially that the author uses different abbreviations) but I googled them and I was fine afterwards. I appreciated the bits about Appalachian folkloreWhat I didn’t like:I really resent the fact that there is no cd or at least a play list attached to this book. It is all about music after all, and nobody is perfect – I knew some of these songs (Metallica, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and of course those ugly, stupid boys from Duran Duran ;p ) but some of them went right above my head and I wish they hadn’t. My last carping: the voice of Preston was good but I would love to hear some words from the mouth of the devil. I am strange like that.Final verdict: A surprisingly good debut – I would like to read more!
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