Jack the Ripper Museum

22 May

I’ve just got back from another mind blowing trip to London.

If you get to go, and have some interest in the subject, may I recommend to you the Jack the Ripper Museum at 12 Cable Street in London’s East End?

Opened in 2015, the sometimes controversial museum looks at the Ripper killings, but with emphasis on the women, NOT the killer.

Some of the exhibits came from the family of Police Constable Watkins, the man who found Catherine Eddowes body.  And the first exhibit you will see is a reconstruction of that event.

There is a reconstruction of Mary Jane Kelly’s bedroom right at the top of the building.  I freely admit that this room is eerie and both my friend Rebecca and myself felt more than a little odd in that room.

Right in the basement is a reconstruction of a mortuary, complete with post mortem table, body drawers, and stained glass from a local mortuary where the post mortems of some of the victims were carried out.  The stained wooden table sits starkly in the middle of the room, like a physical slap in the face to the sensibilities.

This room feels almost sacred.  a beautiful tribute to the women who were killed is laid around the walls.  With post mortem photographs where available.  This is the human face of inhuman behaviour.

If Ross is on the counter when you leave, make sure you make time to chat with him (if the place isn’t busy).  He is knowledgable, interesting, and fun.  He also has a quite awesome photo on his phone of a ghostly presence photographed there.  Whether or not you believe in ghosts, it is quite something to see.  And possibly haunt your dreams.

If you have the time, pay the extra money, and go on the hour and a half walking tour in the afternoon.  This REALLY brings it home when you get an understanding for the distances and places.  The tour takes you through parts of Whitechapel that are every bit as terrifying as they were in 1888, though possibly much cleaner.

The Jack the Ripper Museum is quite possibly the best specialist museum in London.

 

On Holiday

1 May

Hi guys.

I’m off to London tomorrow for a couple of weeks, so no blog posts from me.

Will be back up and running with more interesting (hopefully) blog posts by the end of May.

Take care. ❤

A Murmuring of Bees

9 Apr

“A Murmuring of Bees”, edited by Atlin Merrick, is the latest offering from Improbable Press, the gay romance/erotica Sherlock Holmes imprint.

The stories in this anthology revolve around bees, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  As with any anthology, the stories go from not very good, to mediocre, to excellent.  And, of course, it’s always a matter of personal taste.  My favourite stories were:

“Tales from the Riverbank” by Kim Le Patourel;
“The Secret Diary of Dr John Watson MD” by Kerry Greenwood; and
“The Love of Apiology” by Amy L. Webb

Some stories are straight out romance, but others are most definitely erotica.  So if man on man sexual intercourse offends you, then do not read.

A pleasant way to while away an autumn afternoon.  Recommended.

Shakespeare’s Local

5 Apr

“Shakespeare’s Local” by Pete Brown is a fascinating look at the George Inn in Southwark.

There has been an inn on the site since the 14th Century, and Pete Brown looks at the history of Southwark through the focus of the George.

The George Inn sits next door to the site of the Tabard, with the White Hart next door.  Both famous inns in English history/literature.

This books is rich in history, trivia, and humour.  Pete Brown frequently wanders down byways following odd little thoughts.

If you are interested in Southwark, history, pubs, oh and Shakespeare, this is the book for you.

Highly recommended.

The Confessions of Young Nero

3 Apr

Margaret George has made a career out of excellent pseudo-autobiographical novels.

“The Confessions of Young Nero”, the first part of the life story of Nero, is a welcome addition.

It starts with Nero’s earliest memories and goes up to the fire that destroyed much of Rome.

Margaret George is taking an interesting path with this book.  Her Nero is not the monster of legend, but a young man doing his best in a crazy and often dangerous world.

It is interesting to see a depiction of Nero as man with hopes, fears and loves, rather than the tyranical nutbag of history.  History, as they say, is written by the winners, and none of the Emperors who came after him had a vested interest in rehabilitating him.  In fact for many of them, the blacker they could paint him, the better.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rich and vibrant novel and look forward to reading the rest of Nero’s story.  Even though I know how it ends.

Move Along, Please

21 Mar

There are books of grand epic adventures. Around the world in 80 days. Across the Gobi desert on a skateboard. Sailing the Atlantic in a bathtub.

This isn’t one of them.

“Move Along, Please” by Mark Mason is something much better. A journey achievable by any one of us.

He sets out to travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats using only local buses. He has a fine old time and encounters some interesting people along the way.

The book is peppered with interesting facts about people and places and makes what, on the face of it, is a fairly mundane journey, into something exciting and adventurous.

It’s also a look at the peculiar English trait of eccentricity.

A delightful, entertaining book for the armchair traveler in us all.

Highly recommended.

Death in Profile

19 Mar

I find it very hard to resist a crime novel set in London, and when it’s set in one of my favourite parts of London, it’s doubly irresistible.

“Death in Profile” is the first of the Hampstead Murders series by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

There is a serial killer stalking London and the case team are working out of Hampstead nick.When Detective Chief Inspector Tom Allen is stood down and Detective Superintendent Simon Collison is put in his place, the scene is set for a complex and interesting story.  Especially as the most recent killing just doesn’t seem quite right.  Profiler Peter Collins is brought in to assist and things get interesting.

Guy seamlessly blends a modern police procedural with the Golden Age of detective fiction.

“Death in Profile” is an absorbing and entertaining read.  The characters are all well rounded and believable.  I hope we see more of Collison in future books.

Highly recommended.

Playing to Win

15 Mar

“Playing to Win” is Jeff Apter’s biography of Australian music legend John Farnham.

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight.  John Farnham is nice.  Really nice.  I’m talking pictures of kittens on the internet nice.

However, nice does not make for a terrifically readable biography, so Jeff Apter had an uphill battle to start with.

Though by spicing it with the troubles of John’s manager Glenn Wheatley, Apter managed to create an enjoyable read.  Even if I did feel like I should be drinking cocoa and wearing warm fluffy slippers as I did so.

I do have one niggle.  Over use of the expression “rusted-on” to describe John’s fanbase got completely on my wick by the time I’d finished the book.

I learned some things about John I didn’t know, and came away from the book with my regard for John Farnham higher than it was before.

Highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in John’s career, or the Australian music industry, or just likes a feel good read.

Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Ripper Legacy

13 Mar

David Stuart Davies’ latest edition to Titan’s Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series is a ripper, pun completely intended.

Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate the kidnapping of a child.  This is no ordinary kidnapping, as he discovers when Mycroft becomes involved.

Some old enemies return and there are some new ones.  All well written and well rounded.

Sherlockians will recognize the plot as a “what if” extension of a fairly well known Sherlock Holmes movie from the late 1970s.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson is pure ACD.  No jarring notes here.

A worthwhile addition to any Sherlock Holmes collection.  Highly recommended.

A Pilgrimage to Murder

5 Mar

I got my copy of “A Pilgrimage to Murder” by Paul Doherty from the library on Friday and sat down on Friday evening and read it straight through.

The Great Rebellion is over, and Brother Athelstan, Sir Jack Cranston, and many of Athelstan’s parishioners are going on pilgrimage to Canterbury.

Naturally, nothing goes to plan.  Clerks from the Secret Chancery are being murdered.  At the same time, John of Gaunt is maneuvering to claim the throne of Castile by right of both his marriage to Constanzia of Castile and his descent from Eleanor of Castile.

John of Gaunt’s right hand man, Thibault, joins the pilgrimage to meet up with representatives from Castile to discuss his master’s claim.

To add to the turmoil, someone is threatening Athelstan’s life, and this time the threats are serious.

“A Pilgrimage to Murder” is an excellent book.  The characters only get as far of the first night’s stop before all hell breaks loose.

Well written, exciting, with lots of clues to help you spot the killer.  A delicious addition to the series.

I am looking forward to the continuation of the pilgrimage, because you never know who they might meet, such as Geoffrey Chaucer… or his characters from the Canterbury Tales, or, indeed, the more rounded version of the characters from Paul’s own take on the Canterbury Tales.

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