#BlogTour #BookReview The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris @HarvillSecker @VintageBooks @RandomTTours

Dublin Railway Murders BT Poster

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Vintage for my digital review copy.


Dublin Graphic 1About the Book

Dublin, November 1856: George Little, the chief cashier of the Broadstone railway terminus, is found dead, lying in a pool of
blood beneath his desk.

He has been savagely beaten, his head almost severed; there is no sign of a murder weapon, and the office door is locked, apparently from the inside. Thousands of pounds in gold and silver are left untouched at the scene of the crime.

Augustus Guy, Ireland’s most experienced detective, teams up with Dublin’s leading lawyer to investigate the murder. But the mystery defies all explanation, and two celebrated sleuths sent by Scotland Yard soon return to London, baffled.

Five suspects are arrested then released, with every step of the salacious case followed by the press, clamouring for answers. But then a local woman comes forward, claiming to know the murderer….

Format: Hardcover (384 pages)             Publisher: Harvill Secker
Publication date: 11th November 2021 Genre: True Crime, Mystery

Find The Dublin Railway Murder on Goodreads

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My Review

In The Dublin Railway Murder, the author pieces together the story of an 1856 murder mystery that gripped the population of Dublin, and beyond.  The book is a meticulously researched true crime story based on contemporary accounts, original police interviews and other documents unearthed from the archives by the author.

The murder of George Little is in essence a locked-room murder mystery that could have come straight off the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, but didn’t because it actually happened. However, don’t expect a ‘whodunnit’ because a definitive outcome is not necessarily the way things happen in real life.

The book contains a massive amount of detail, not just about the course of the investigation and the trial, but also about life in Victorian Dublin. Although the social history was fascinating, at times it did threaten to dominate the unfolding story. Having said that, I did learn an awful lot about the operation of a Victorian railway, a seemingly much more complicated and bureaucratic process than simply transporting people and goods from A to B.

The book has a large cast of characters (listed at the beginning of the book) some of whom make only a brief appearance and, although forming part of the investigation, don’t contribute much to the eventual outcome.  What I did find astonishing was the initially slapdash approach to the investigation, such as not securing the crime scene and allowing members of the public and press to wander in and out. On the other hand, I was amazed at the efforts the police went to in the attempt to recover key items of evidence, including having a canal drained and searching in some extremely unsalubrious places.

My favourite parts of the book were the chapters describing the trial of the individual charged with the crime. There was a real sense of the frenzied atmosphere around the proceedings with the press and public jostling for places in the gallery, as well as the barristers for the defence and the prosecution competing with each other to uncover – or mitigate – the more damaging revelations, even to make the most amusing quip. These sections also highlighted aspects of the legal process we would find quite puzzling today, such as the absence of a witness box and the item that was used instead.

The Dublin Railway Murder has been likened to Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and in fact Whicher does make a fleeting appearance in the book. I felt I would have liked to get to know some of the main characters, such as Superintendent Augustus Guy, just a little bit more, and perhaps see things from their point of view. And, as the author acknowledges towards the end of the book, the emotional impact of the murder on the victim’s family, which would be much more of a focus in a similar situation today, was largely ignored at the time.

The Dublin Railway Murder will definitely appeal to fans of historical true crime and those who like to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of past times.

In three words: Detailed, meticulous, absorbing

Try something similarThis Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman

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Thomas Morris_Credit Charlotte Machin (cleared for jacket and publicity)About the Author

Thomas Morris is a writer and historian. His first book, The Matter of the Heart (Bodley Head, 2017), a critically-acclaimed history of cardiac surgery, won a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for non-fiction. He is also the author of The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth (Bantam, 2018). He was previously a BBC radio producer for 18 years, and his freelance journalism has appeared in publications including The Times, The Lancet and the TLS.

Connect with Thomas
Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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#WWWWednesday – 8th September 2021

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too?  Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

A Better Part of ValorA Better Part of Valor (Valorie Dawes #3) by Gary Corbin

While jogging off duty along the riverfront, rookie cop Valorie Dawes discovers the body of a young girl—and ignites a manhunt for a serial killer.

The Shoeless Schoolgirl Slayer has remained a step ahead of the Clayton, CT police for months. All of his victims drowned. All were found barefoot. And all bear the same strange, fresh tattoo. Then rookie cop Val Dawes notices patterns that eluded the department’s more traditional senior detectives. Following her intuition, she discovers clues that convince her she’s closing in.

But is she? Or is the clever and elusive Slayer laying a trap to make Val the next victim?

The Fortune MenThe Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

The story of a murder, a miscarriage of justice, and a man too innocent for his times . . .

Mahmood Mattan is a fixture in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, 1952, which bustles with Somali and West Indian sailors, Maltese businessmen and Jewish families. He is a father, chancer, petty criminal. He is a smooth-talker with rakish charm and an eye for a good game. He is many things, but he is not a murderer.

So when a shopkeeper is brutally killed and all eyes fall on him, Mahmood isn’t too worried. Since his Welsh wife Laura kicked him out for racking up debts he has wandered the streets more often, and there are witnesses who allegedly saw him enter the shop that night. But Mahmood has escaped worse scrapes, and he is innocent in this country where justice is served. Love lends him immunity too: the fierce love of Laura, who forgives his gambling in a heartbeat, and his children. It is only in the run-up to the trial, as the prospect of returning home dwindles, that it will dawn on Mahmood that he is in a fight for his life – against conspiracy, prejudice and cruelty – and that the truth may not be enough to save him.


Recently finished

The Senator’s Darkest Days by Joan E. Histon

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout 

The Wrecking Storm (Thomas Tallant #2) by Michael Ward

Ghosts of the West by Alec Marsh

When daring journalist Sir Percival Harris gets wind of a curious crime in a sleepy English town, he ropes in his old friend Professor Ernest Drabble to help him investigate. The crime is a grave robbery, and as Drabble and Harris pry deeper, events take a mysterious turn when a theft at the British Museum is soon followed by a murder.

The friends are soon involved in a tumultuous quest that takes them from the genteel streets of London to the wide plains of the United States. What exactly is at stake is not altogether clear – but if they don’t act soon, the outcome could be a bloody conflict, one that will cross borders, continents and oceans…

Meanwhile, can Drabble and Harris’s friendship – which has endured near-death experiences on several continents, not to mention a boarding school duel – survive a crisis in the shape of the beautiful and enigmatic Dr Charlotte Moore? (Review to follow for blog tour)


What Cathy (will) Read Next

Blasted ThingsBlasted Things by Lesley Glaister 

1920: Britain is trying to forget the Great War. Clementine, who nursed at the front and suffered her own losses, must bury the past and settle for a life of middle class respectability. Then she meets Vincent, an opportunistic veteran whose damage goes much deeper than the painted tin mask he wears to face the world.

Powerfully drawn together they enter a deadly relationship that careers towards a dark and haunting resolution.