On April 26th, 1871, a police constable walking one of London’s remotest beats stumbled upon a brutalized young woman kneeling in the muddy road. She stretched out her hand to him, collapsed in the mud, muttered, “Let me die,” and slipped into a coma. Five days later, she died, her identity still unknown.Within hours of her discovery, scores of Metropolitan Police officers were involved in the investigation, while Scotland Yard sent one of its top detectives to lead it. On the day of her death, the police discovered the girl's identity: Jane Maria Clouson, a sixteen-year-old servant to the Pooks, a respectable Greenwich family. Hours later, they arrested her master's son, twenty-year-old Edmund, for her murder.An epic tale of law and disorder, Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane is the story of the majesty—and the travesty—of the nineteenth-century British legal system. Using an abundant collection of primary sources, Paul Thomas Murphy creates a gripping narrative of the police procedural and the ensuing legal drama, and, applying contemporary forensic methods to this Victorian cold case, reveals definitively the identity of Jane Clouson's murderer.
Paul Thomas Murphy is the author of Shooting Victoria, a 2012 New York Times notable book. He holds advanced degrees in Victorian Studies from Oxford and McGill Universities and the University of Colorado, where he taught both English and writing on interdisciplinary topics. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado.