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Summary

Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.

The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction. There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people - victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing.

©2021 Kate Morgan (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Kate Morgan’s panoramic tour allows us to pull back and examine how our understanding is built on history, but also fiction and legend. Masterful." (Judith Flanders, author of The Invention of Murder

"A page turning read.... A history that is framed by the Law but does not shy away from using popular culture and our endless fascination with murder and murderers to bring the story to life." (Prof. David Wilson, author of Signs of Murder)

"With Murder: The Biography author and lawyer Kate Morgan asks two essential questions: What exactly is the crime we know as murder? and how has it gained its current prominence in our criminal justice system? Weaving together fascinating historical cases and expert opinion on the subject, Morgan presents an account that will engross and titillate all those for whom murder is a passion...." (Vaseem Khan, author of Midnight at Malabar House

What listeners say about Murder: The Biography

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  • Overall
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Excellent book, well performed.

This is a comprehensive story of the legal treatment of murder since the 1600s. There are lots of interesting cases discussed which maybe are not well known, but have helped to define our laws surrounding murder and manslaughter. Emilia Fox was a great choice as narrator. Well worth listening to.

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Interesting and thought provoking

This book is suitable for anyone interested in crime and the way in which murders are framed within different contexts and time periods. The author leads you through carefully laid out insights and provides an excellent framework for the examination of the nature of murder. The narrator has a lovely voice, even though the subject is not so lovely!

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Fascinating

Fascinating book - It was really eye opening and throughly engaging. Brilliantly narrated could listen to Emilia Fox all day.

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interesting history

Really enjoyed the UK legal history of the consequences of murder throughout our history

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  • JH
  • 12-05-21

Thought Provoking

I really enjoyed this book, I found it absorbing & thought provoking. The knowledge I gained throughout has made me want to pursue the subject further. Thank you.

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Interesting but not compelling

Some interesting stories about the origins of murder law, but it got too caught up in the intricacies of the law, when personally I found the real human stories more interesting. The narration sounded a bit wooden at times, though it was read well - I thought Emilia sounded like she was not relaxed, and a little too formal.

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Fascinating listen

at times witty, at times tragic, at times mcarbe but always interesting and accessible. highly recommended

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Interesting

Good base to start from, in understanding the murder laws and their development. Enjoyable narration

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interesting

Really interesting and well researched book. I enjoyed it immensely. I recommend to anyone who enjoys true crime podcasts.