A QUESTION OF GUILT: The Curious Case of Dr. Crippen by Richard Gordon

A QUESTION OF GUILT: The Curious Case of Dr. Crippen

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another vivid, grisly fictional reappraisal of a true crime case--by the crisply British author of Jack the Ripper and many other medically informed novels. Here Gordon interweaves the ever-familiar Crippen case with the story of two Crippen acquaintances: Dr. Eliot Beckett, who runs a free clinic in Edwardian London; and his nurse/lover Nancy--an American heiress whose tubercular sister ""Baby"" has died in a Swiss sanitorium. And among those who have offered advice on ""Baby's"" case is American-born nostrums peddler Hawley Harvey Crippen, a modest con man with vague medical credentials. So Eliot and Nancy have some inside views as the focus turns to Crippen's own domestic crisis: he's in love with typist Ethel Le Neve but married to Belle--a fat, adulterous, stupid-shrewd, would-be vaudevillian with expensive tastes. It is Ellot's copy of Gray's Anatomy, in fact, which provides Crippen with the necessary information for the murder: he poisons Belle, beheads her, eviscerates and debones the body in the bathtub--burying the remains under the cellar coal pile. (The bones, meanwhile, find their way to Poupart's Piccadilly Potted Meat company.) From the scene of the crime to well-sketched trial: an ironic reconstruction, laced with black comedy and grim wit--clever, stylish, but not for those with delicate stomachs.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum