Supper With The Crippens: A new investigation into one of the most notorious cases of the 20th century.

By David James Smith

It was at a time when Edwardian Britain seemed a golden place, basking in its imperial glory. Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen set himself up in the then fasionable business of homeopathy. His wife, a music-hall variety performer called Belle Elmore, did her best with her limited stage talents. They lived among the suburban villas of North London, renting a house at 39 Hilldrop Crescent. They were a couple, much happier in company than they were with each other.

After supper on 31 January 1910, their friends went home and Crippen killed Belle with poison and dismembered her body and buried some of her remains beneath the brick floor of the coal cellar. Crippen never admitted killing his wife and took the secrets of the crime with him when he was hanged, following his conviction for murder.

It is assumed that Crippen killed for the love of his mistress, his secretary Ethel le Neve. They began living together as man and wife, but under intense suspicion they ran off to Europe disguised as father and son and boarded an ocean liner, the SS Montrose, to Canada. The story was now a national scandal and the liner's captain saw through their disguise, recognising Crippen and Ethel from their published photographs. Using the newly installed Marconi wireless telegraph he sent messages back to Scotland Yard. The chase - indeed everything about the murder and its cast of characters - was reported in fine detail, in Britain, in America and the rest of the western world. Crippen was arrested on deck and with Ethel was brought back to England for trial. Ethel was accused of being an accessory to murder, but was acquitted.

David James Smith has investigated afresh this celebrated murder case, and his researches have uncovered unexpected and startling information about 'Chamber of Horrors' stalwart Dr Crippen, Belle and Ethel.
[review from OrionBooks]

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