Crippen: A Novel of Murder
by John Boyne
Paperback- $14.28

July 1910: A gruesome discovery has been made at 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Camden.

Chief Inspector Walter Dew of Scotland Yard did not expect ...

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  "Superb writing and presentation" by ebach (see profile) 11/10/18

Once you read one of John Boyne’s books, you will probably want to read all of them. That was the case with me after I read THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES. I was happy to find his older books, including CRIPPEN, a book of fiction about Dr. Hawley Crippen, an actual person who really was accused of murdering his wife in 1910. Many of the facts in this novel really did happen, and many of the characters really did exist. But, again, CRIPPEN is fiction, and most of it comes from Boyne’s imagination.

And what an imagination! CRIPPEN is superb.

The Crippen in the book CRIPPEN is a wimp with a questionable character, maybe a result of his questionable upbringing. As an adult, he’s more a wannabe doctor than an actual doctor. Still, he’s prepared himself as best he could to practice medicine when he leaves Michigan (where he meets and marries his second wife) for New York and then leaves there for England.

Crippen’s second wife, Cora, is another wannabe. She is a not-so-good music hall singer who fancies herself great enough (with a little coaching) to sing before the queen. She is a miserable hellion and abuses Crippen both physically and verbally.

So you probably won’t feel bad about the way she ends up. You may even root for the murderer.

But what will keep you following this story, including Crippen’s attempt at escape on an ocean liner to Canada, is Boyne’s writing and his overall presentation. Although the word “genius” is overused in performance reviews, no other word better describes how Boyne arranges the story the way he does here. Because of this arrangement, you will be surprised again and again.

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