Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun

Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun – A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder – is a comprehensive account of the first murder in a train, which happened in the First-Class carriage, in 1864. It was shocking and fuelled Victorian fears of what new risks can bring new technology.

Mr Briggs' Hat by Kate Colquhoun

It is well written, starting with what Thomas Briggs did before boarding the train in London. His belongings were found, but not him. One of the items was a hat, but it did not belong to Mr. Briggs, which meant it was the one the killer had. The police searched for the killer and this led to a race across the Atlantic. Newspapers in both New York and London covered the investigation and the trail, which was pretty incredible considering that at that point US was in a civil war.

The story is gripping and fascinating. Colquhoun researched the topic nicely and she quoted lots of primary sources, including from the trail. She also shared ideas the public sent to the police, of which some were incredibly forward thinking and now a part of policing. I enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it. I would suggest avoiding looking at the pictures presented in the book before you read it as it contains spoilers. I think this would be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in policing or crime.

Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Little, Brown
Year it was published: 2011
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 339

About the author: Kate Colquhoun is a biographer and historian. Her first book A Thing in Disguise: the visionary life of Joseph Paxton (Fourth Estate, 2003) was shortlisted for the Duff Cooper prize, nominated for the Samuel Johnson award and was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. She also wrote Taste: the history of Britain through its cooking (Bloomsbury, 2007).
Mr Briggs’ Hat (Little, Brown, 2011) was shortlisted for a Crime Writers’ Association silver dagger award, translated widely and filmed for BBC TV. Another book, Did She Kill Him? (Little, Brown 2014), investigates the story of Florence Maybrick, an American ingénue tried for the murder of her older cotton-broker husband James in Liverpool in 1889.
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6 thoughts on “Mr Briggs’ Hat by Kate Colquhoun”

  • Oh, I remember being tempted by this one when it came out and then it dropped off my radar. Thanks for the reminder! It sounds really interesting and I’ lad you felt she did a good job with it. One for the wishlist!

    • I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it. I got it from the library, so that might worth checking, if you don’t fancy spending money on it. 🙂

    • I think you would. It’s nicely written and the topic is random, but interesting nonetheless.

    • I hope you will enjoy the book. It is quite unique topic. I reserved from the library another book by her, hopefully it will be very interesting as well.

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