Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder

Kate Colquhoun

Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder

In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a First Class carriage on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks entered the carriage and discovered blood in the seat cushions; also on the floor, windows and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he flees on a boat to America was eagerly followed by citizens both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the nation. 4.1 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Mr Briggs' Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain's First Railway Murder

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre True Crime
Format Hardback
Pages 352
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication May 2011
ISBN 978-1847443694
Publisher Sphere
 

In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He entered a First Class carriage on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks entered the carriage and discovered blood in the seat cushions; also on the floor, windows and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he flees on a boat to America was eagerly followed by citizens both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the nation.

TASTE: THE STORY OF BRITAIN THROUGH ITS COOKING by Kate Colquhoun

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Miranda Seymour

Each stage in the murder case is interconnected by passages of the enthralling — and always relevant — social detail at which this gifted writer excels. Deploying her skill as a historian, Colquhoun turns a single curious murder case into a fascinatingly quirky portrait of the underside of mid-Victorian London. I found it unputdownable.

28/04/2011

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The Sunday Times

James McConnachie

[A] thrilling book, which reads at times like a good Victorian novel … It should be clear that if this isn’t exactly a whodunnit, it is an utterly compelling did-he-do-it — and it is surprising right to the end. It is also an acute evocation of a world, and an era, that seems boundlessly fascinating in our own time.

01/05/2011

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The Mail on Sunday

Craig Brown

She is wonderful at evoking the clatter and bustle of Victorian London, as well as the eerie calm of the City at night … Kate Colquhoun is a fine, robust writer who makes the most of [the story's] every twist and turn. She also managed to make me feel nostalgic for the fatal railway compartment and left me yearning for those long-gone days when an assailant would wear a top hat rather than headphones, and when a railway window could actually be opened when there was a corpse in need of tipping out.

01/05/2011

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The Literary Review

Andrew Lycett

Colquhoun is particularly good at putting her laboriously assembled material in historical context, illuminating not just London of the 1860s, but also aspects of contemporary forensics, criminology and literature. We learn, for example, how Briggs’s murder led to the development of the communication cord in railways. Colquhoun is not content to let it rest at that: she tells how various external contraptions were tried and, as usual, her pertinacity pays off and makes for a better story.

01/05/2011

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The Observer

Andrew Martin

… at first I thought that Colquhoun was aiming at the bestseller lists with a piece of pure hackery … But as Mr Briggs makes his last peregrinations, I began to be drawn in … Besides writing with real forward momentum, she is good at atmosphere.

08/05/2011

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The Independent

Jonathan Sale

Enthralling … Unlike some writers who attempt historical reconstructions, Kate Colquhoun steers safely between the twin perils of over- and under-confidence which litter many a historical reconstruction. Her well-told tale would stand up in court — unlike much of the evidence in the case.

20/05/2011

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The Financial Times

Izabella Scott

[A] riveting portrait of Victorian London … Colquhoun retains the balance of evidence to the very end; her reader is left perturbed, unsure if justice was ever done.

28/05/2011

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The Daily Mail

John Preston

… you keep expecting some new piece of information to emerge that will turn everything on its head and give the story fresh impetus — except it never does. None of this is Colquhoun’s fault, her account is elegantly written, lively and as dramatic as she can make it. The only thing lacking a memorable twist of drama, alas, is the case itself.

26/04/2011

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