The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable

A True Tale of Passion, Poison and Pursuit

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About The Book

John Tawell was a sincere Quaker but a sinning one. Convicted of forgery, he was transported to Sydney, where he opened Australia’s first retail pharmacy and made a fortune. When he returned home to England after fifteen years, he thought he would be welcomed; instead he was shunned.

Then on New Year’s Day 1845 Tawell boarded the 7:42 pm train to London Paddington. Soon, men arrived chasing a suspected murderer – but the 7:42 had departed. The Great Western Railway was experimenting with a new-fangled device, the electric telegraph, so a message was sent: a ‘KWAKER’ man was on the run. The trail became a sensation, involving no apparent weapon, much innuendo, and a pious man desperate to save his reputation – and would usher in the modern communication age.

Told with narrative verve and rich in historical research, this is a delicious true tale of murder and scientific revolution in Victorian England.

About The Author

Carol Baxter is the prize-winning author of three popular histories with a criminal bent

Product Details

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (September 1, 2013)
  • Length: 416 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780742441

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Raves and Reviews

‘Fascinating… told by Carol Baxter like a novel, with plenty of tension’

– Independent on Sunday

'Reading this account of a real-life crime in 1845 is an experience close to time travel. Through impressive research and unshowy prose, Baxter whisks us back to the start of the modern age… Totally irresistible.'

– Independent

'As lively and readable as a crime novel. Normally, that would be good enough; but this is a book of two halves — its unique selling point is the invention of the telegraph'

– The Times

'A fascinating history, mystery and portrait of a complex contradictory man.'

– Daily Mail

'Meticulously researched and thoroughly engrossing.'

– Fiona Rule, author of The Worst Street in London

'A masterful reconstruction of a forgotten story.'

– Siân Rees, author of The Floating Brothel and The Ship Thieves