"Touching and gripping and totally fascinating."
LAUNCHED INTO ETERNITY
FROM THE BLOODY CODE TO EXECUTION REFORM IN THE 19TH CENTURY AS REPORTED BY THE VICTORIAN PRESS
From David Thompson Myers who was executed for sodomy in front of a crowd of 6,000, to Philip Cody who tried to kill the executioner in a desperate bid to escape on the scaffold, to Mary Ansell, who poisoned her insane sister with a Victoria Sponge cake to claim her life insurance money - the stories of the condemned give a fascinating insight into Victorian life, death and attitudes to crime.
Newspaper coverage of executions was big business and the public clamoured to read about the actions and words of culprits whose deaths were either celebrated or commiserated depending on public feeling towards their crimes.
The 19th Century was a time of rapid change for the system of capital punishment in Britain. At the start of the century, the ‘Bloody Code’ was in full swing with executions being enjoyed as huge public spectacles. As a criminal you could be executed for any number of petty crimes, but by 1900 the law had changed significantly. By the turn of the century, the only capital crimes were murder and treason, and executions took place behind the closed walls of prisons.
The press reports from the time give a fascinating insight into the attitudes of the public, both towards different criminals and to capital punishment itself. Their reaction, which could range from anger and derision towards a detested criminal, to horror and outrage that someone should be executed with whom they had sympathy or believed to be innocent.
The last words of these men, women (and even children) are sometimes moving, sometimes bizarre or unrepentant, or simply maintaining their innocence.
The records of these events are a touching insight into the behaviour and reactions of people who were facing their last moments before their inevitable death.
Before they were launched into eternity.
ROCK, RANSOM, RETRIBUTION
Having a rock star as a business partner was always going to be a gamble, but as a gangland boss, you assume people won’t cross you. After all, everyone knows not to mess with Frankie Finch.
Kidd Ritchie may be past his prime, but after thirty years of rocking packed stadiums he can still draw a crowd, so all eyes are on their glitzy new casino for opening night.
But when burlesque superstar Birdie the Bird of Paradise is snatched from her dressing room and one of Frankie’s boys risks everything to save her, Frankie has no choice but to get involved.
As the Vegas mafia close in and threaten everything Frankie holds dear, can he get Birdie and his man back alive, or will his reign as king of East London finally come to an end?
And everyone knows, you don’t retire from being a gang boss. You get retired.
Caged is book 4 in TM Thorne's Frankie Finch London Gangster series.