STRICTLY MURDER: Famous Cases of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad by Tom Tullett

STRICTLY MURDER: Famous Cases of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad

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A string of murder cases, 1907-1977, recorded efficiently enough, but without dash or insight; crime-reporter Tullett's focus is always on the Scotland Yard investigation itself, rather than the (often more interesting) criminal or trial. Most of the more engaging horrors here are staples of true-crime anthology--Dr. Crippen, Smith's brides in the bath, Major Armstrong--and Tullett finds no new wrinkles in them. Nor does he really create much sense of the Squad's people and practices: the leading detectives (""whose names became as well known as those of film and television stars""--but not in the U.S.) come and go, usually described in romanticizing cliches (""The canny, softly-spoken Scot. . . . With terrierlike tenacity""), though Tullett does note ""the flaws in the investigation"" of the Crippen case; and sleuth techniques--from laundry-marks and recordkeeping to Identikit and hair analysis--are noted as they crop up but never freshly dramatized. Weakest of all is the depiction of the murderers: e.g., when poisoner Mrs. Majors, clearly bonkers, virtually screams her guilt to one and all, Tullett intones fatuously: ""It was the sort of slip which has proved the downfall of many a criminal."" Okay on procedure, then, hopeless on crime personality, and occasionally gruesome--but far surpassed for gore by Keith Simpson's firsthand Forty Years of Murder (1979).

Pub Date: March 7th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's