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The Trial of Elizabeth Cree Hardcover – April 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 261 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese; First Edition edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385477074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385477079
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest from Ackroyd (English Music) is a deft, if somewhat cerebral and cold-blooded, exercise in historical crime fiction set in a late-Victorian London teeming with intellectual activity, extreme poverty and all manner of sensational public spectacles. A blend of trial transcripts, first-person accounts and microscopic biographical studies of illustrious 19th-century lives, the story is an impressive feat of historical fidelity and fictional artistry. In a marvelous coda, Ackroyd even unites his protagonists in the audience of a theater, to watch a play based on the gruesome events of the novel. The story opens with the trial and execution of former music-hall actress Elizabeth Cree, convicted of poisoning her husband, John Cree, whose diary entries suggest that he is the "Limehouse Golem," a serial killer stalking the squalid, smog-choked streets of London's Jewish district. Around these grisly deeds weave the intersecting paths of Ackroyd's nonfictional characters, including George Gissing, Karl Marx and popular theater star Dan Leno, who haunt the Reading Room of the British Museum and the chiarascuro streets of the city. The Golem's identity, in a not unexpected plot twist, is ultimately found among the protean personae of the theater world. Yet Ackroyd reminds us at every turn that his fictional whodunit enfolds a larger, unsolvable mystery, a mystery of London itself, and of the solace that its populace finds in popular spectacles of sensational crime and violence.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Mixing history with liberal doses of invention, Ackroyd (English Music, LJ 9/15/92) presents a dark, atmospheric portrait of Victorian London. While bringing in everyone from an elderly Karl Marx to a youthful George Gissing, he focuses on Elizabeth Cree, who is on trial for her husband's murder. Ackroyd uses the transcripts of Cree's trial to set the stage for a series of flashbacks tracing her squalid beginnings in Lambeth Marsh, her days in comedian Dan Leno's music hall troupe, and her eventual marriage to journalist John Cree. Set against this is a diary, purportedly by John, that details the murderous exploits of the "Limehouse Golem." In Elizabeth's pathology, Ackroyd finds a harbinger for the social malignancies of our own age. An intellectually stimulating, if grisly, historical thriller. Recommended for most collections.
-?Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter LaPrade on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After I finished "The Trial of Elizabeth Cree", I felt chilled by how Ackroyd strings us along for the whole novel, and blows us out of the water with an unexpected revelation. Set in 1880 and in London, there are a series of murders, and some suspect that a being out of kabalistic lore is responsible. We, who can see through the eyes of the Crees know better; the murderer is fully human, and quite the picture of human evil. Along the way, we meet a few 19th century luminaries, and see how they are intertwined in the plot. Ackroyd did well here, and I hope more people discover this novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mohit Nayyar on September 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I think how much you like a book very often depends on how you're feeling about life as you read it. If that is the only factor, then I must have been in one hell-of-a-mood as I read this one. What a great book! I could, prior to reading this book, never have imagined reading a book about a psychopath, judging by what I usually read at that time. But I'm so glad I did! I was introduced to the author through his book 'Chatterton' by a now-estranged friend. Whereas that book was passable, this one, in my opinion, is exceptional!

I'll try and write a couple of sentences which are actually about the book now: I think the main sellers of the book are its plot ofcourse, its simplicity, and the pacing, which is sheer genius. I'm a sucker for simplicity if the language is elegant--which it is in this case--when it offsets a very unusual storyline. Should also mention the atmosphere of the book: its descriptions of London in that period seems very plausible and authentic. Loved swimming in the dark hues of the book. (Never mind that this seems to counter my opening conjecture!) Love the book, especially it's unpredictability! A must read guys, this one is one of those undiscovered treasures.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book, also seen on shelves under the title of "Dan Leno and the Lime House Golem" paints a splendid picture of a squalid scene. The sights, sounds, and smells of London are vividly imagined by the interested reader. This very creepy story left me dazed and shaky. When I finished this book late at night, I put the book down, thought about it for a moment, then picked it up and started over again at page 1.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I thought this book was fantastic! What it didn't have in suspense (You find out who the murderer is very early on) it made up for in rich period detail. And for once, here is a book about Victorian times that doesn't exaggerate the subject up to the hilt. The nature of the murders also made it positively scary.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
This is a fascinating study of city life in Victorian England. Historically accurate while fictionally charged, the novel offers a unique and tantalizing perspective of British history. I am disappointed that it was not deemed worthy or popular enough to be issued in a follow-up paperback.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A clever and engaging novel, with an interesting blend of probability and possibility.

Who murdered whom, and why? There is more than one murder, and potentially a number of murderers in this novel and Mr Ackroyd provides some intriguing possibilities.

The year is 1880, and in a novel inhabited with real people as well as with entirely plausible characters, we set off to dissect the life and times of Elizabeth Cree who is on trial for the murder of her husband.

We meet Karl Marx and George Gissing. We spend time in London's variety theatre and we become all too familiar with life in Victorian London.

Some readers will enjoy the elements of mystery, others will enjoy the superb writing. I enjoyed it all.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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