Summary

A Victorian murder. A Victorian madman. A modern judgment.
Gateshead, April 1866. The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane takes the forgotten case of a child murder in 1866 as a springboard to delve deeply into the pysche of the Victorians. What Jane Housham finds in this exploration of guilt, sexual deviance and madness is a diagnosis that is still ripe for the challenging and a sentence that provokes even our liberal modern judgment.
Set around Gateshead, it is a revelatory social history of the North - an area growing in industry and swelling with immigration, where factory workers are tinged blue and yellow by chemicals, the first tabloids are printed, children are left alone by working parents and haystack fires sweep the county in rebellion against the introduction of the police force.
Into this landscape a five-year-old Irish girl named Sarah Melvin sets out over the fell to look for her father, and a troubled young man makes a frightening leap of logic to save his own skin. Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs.
©2016 Jane Housham (P)2016 WF Howes Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By RubyShoes on 14-04-17

Awful in my opinion

An excellent example of how to handle historical cases using available documents and surviving reports from the time to create a narrative is His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet

An awful example is The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane.

It's just a jumble of words the case, the social history, press reports and everything but the kitchen sink thrown together. So disorganised it drove me nuts.. and the tone of the narration is that of a poor quality teacher sending a class to sleep.

Sadly after 5 hours I could bear no more I had to return it for the refund - something I hate doing even mediocre books I try and struggle through hoping they'll improve but not this one!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By SarahF on 09-03-18

Fascinating content, grim subject matter

Would you listen to The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane again? Why?

No, but only because I don't think I'd learn anything new

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane?

Cuthbert's confession was truly harrowing to hear.

Any additional comments?

Please be prepared for some nasty details about the murder and motive. I have an interest in true crime, but I felt quite disturbed by this. I'm glad I listened to it though, as I feel I learned a lot.

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