BOOKS

THE WATCHMAKER'S REVENGE

 

"Last night considerable excitement was caused in Coventry by the report that a number of persons had been shot and seriously wounded by a man who was going about the town with a revolver."

​The horrific actions of watchmaker Oliver Style on the evening of Thursday, 27th May 1880 are now long forgotten. But at the time the case was national - and international - news, and barely left the pages of local newspapers for six months.

​He had walked into the Old Half Moon tavern on Coventry's Spon End and shot two customers and the landlady without saying a word, then just as suddenly left and made his way to Much Park Street, where he shot his wife, their infant son and his mother in law.

​Think of Coventry's famous watchmaking industry, and the image which comes to mind is of a genial, skilled craftsman, hunched over a workstation, carrying out his work with infinite care to support his loving family. But scratch beneath the surface and tales of drunkeness, domestic abuse and infidelity are rife.

​This book examines the long-forgotten case of Oliver Style and the harrowing aftermath of his actions, and reveals the real lives of the Coventry watchmaking community.

​£10.00 Paperback.
Illustrated / bibliography / index.

CHIEF INSPECTOR SWANSON AND THE IDENTITY OF JACK THE RIPPER

 

An edited extract from Adam Wood's full biography, Swanson: The Life and Times of A Victorian Detective.

This 162-page softcover book features a detailed account of the Whitechapel murders of 1888, a history of Swanson's handwritten notes discovered 50 years after his death which name the chief suspect and what happened to him, and an examination by the author into the events described in Swanson's marginalia.

Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867. The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. When he retired 35 years later, in 1903, he had risen to the rank of  Superintendent of the CID at Scotland Yard, the top detective in the country.

On 15th September 1888 Swanson was hand-picked by Commissioner Sir Charles Warren to lead the investigation into the Whitechapel murders by the so-called Jack the Ripper, as a result learning more about the case than any other officer as he read every report, statement, letter and telegram.

Although the mystery was never officially solved, more than 50 years after Donald Swanson’s death his grandson discovered private handwritten notes which seemed to finally explain what happened to the murderer – and to name him at last.

£10.00 Paperback.

Illustrated

THE CASE OF THE PAINTED BICYCLE LAMP

 

The gruesome double murder of Richard and Mary Phillips in Coventry’s Stoke Park estate seemed a perfect mystery.

The bloodied bodies of the elderly couple were found in their bedroom, with the previous days’ newspapers piled up on the doormat.

A calendar on their mantlepiece had not been changed for two days, capturing the date of the attack – Wednesday, 10th January 1906.

The only clue for Coventry’s City Police was the discovery of a crudely-painted bicycle lamp, its side lights covered over, which the murderer had seemingly used as a lantern.

Could Detective Inspector Imber solve the riddle?

This book examines the events leading up to the fatal night, and why, despite the owner of the lamp being charged with the murders and standing trial at Warwick Assizes, the case is officially classed as ‘Unsolved’.

£10.00 Paperback.
Illustrated / bibliography / index.

MURDER ON THE BRIGHTON EXPRESS

 

“As the train entered the Merstham tunnel, a Brighton chemist named William Gibson heard four or five loud bangs, which he took to be fog signals. The reports followed one after the other, all in the space of five or six seconds. The train continued on its journey.”

At 3.20pm on the hot afternoon of 27th June 1881, the London to Brighton express train pulled into Preston Park, a mile from its final destination. As the ticket collectors approached the carriages, one saw a thin, sickly looking man sitting in a first-class compartment beckoning him over. As the official arrived at the window, he saw that the passenger’s face and neck were smeared with blood, and there was a clot beside an ear. There was blood between his fingers, blood upon his clothes, blood in the carriage and blood upon the train’s footboard, which also bore the marks of bloodstained fingerprints. The carriage was otherwise empty.

A terrible tale was told of being attacked and shot at by two other passengers, who had now disappeared ‒ apparently from the moving train ‒ before falling into unconsciousness until arriving at Preston Park.

As the passenger stepped onto the platform, it was noticed that a small chain was hanging out of his left shoe. One of the ticket collectors stooped to pull on it, and a gold, white-faced watch emerged. The passenger had, he said, put it there for safekeeping.

So began the extraordinary story of Percy Lefroy Mapleton. During his return journey to south London accompanied by two railway police officers, a body was found by workers on the tracks in Balcombe Tunnel, eighteen miles before Preston Park. Was this one of Lefroy’s attackers, or was there something more sinister behind the discovery?

​£10.00 Paperback.
Illustrated / bibliography / index.

SWANSON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A VICTORIAN DETECTIVE

 

Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the remote far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867 at the age of 19 and initially working as a City clerk.

​The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. 35 years later he retired as Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, the top detective in the country.

​Set against the backdrop of the developing Metropolitan Police, this book tells the story of a life and career which included railway murderers, grave robbers, fraudulent mediums, Jack the Ripper, the Philosopher’s Stone, Fenian dynamite campaigns, shocking revelations about the aristocracy and a crazed captain with sea serpents in a bottle.

​Linking it all together is Donald Swanson, whose application letter to the Metropolitan Police spoke of a desire for “a good opening”. After reading his story, the reader will be left in little doubt that he made the most of the opportunities which came his way.

​* 790-pages
* Paperback
* More than 100 illustrations
* Over 1,800 Notes and references
* Bibliography
* Index
* £20.00