Book review: The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable, By Carol Baxter


Christopher Hirst
Friday 13 September 2013 00:45 BST

Reading his account of a real-life crime in 1845 is an experience close to time travel. Through impressive research and unshowy prose, Baxter whisks us back to the start of the modern age.

By means of the world's first electric telegraph, railway police in Paddington were alerted to a murder suspect "in the garb of a Kwaker" (the early telegraph couldn't manage "Q').

Baxter's pursuit of this unlikely figure involves a long detour to her Australian homeland and other fascinating meanders concerning poisons, railways and criminality. In short, it is totally irresistible.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in