The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath, By Jane Robins

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The Independent Culture

The legion of fans addicted to period crime drama should snap up this splendid real-life account of a 1915 trial.

Its dramatis personae come straight out of Central Casting: the brilliant young pathologist Barnard Spilsbury with "the authority that often comes to men blessed with good books", the defence counsel Edward Marshall Hall, described by the playwright Pinero as "a revelation of manly beautiful", and the defendant George Smith, so charismatic that, according to one observer, "women came journeys of 50 or 60 miles to catch a glimpse".

The final chilling words from the judge to Smith explain why period drama has a tension lost today: "May the Lord have mercy on your soul."