Title: Bedlam, London and its mad / Underworld London, Crime and Punishment in the Capital City
Author: Catharine Arnold
Pages: 320 / 352
Genre: true crime, non-fiction, history, mental illness
Editor: Simon Shuster Uk
Rating on Goodreads: Underworld 3.91 / Bedlam 3.54
My rating: Bedlam 1/5 – Underworld London 4.5/5
Trigger Warning: death, blood, graphic description of corpse, violence and murder, child abuse
I will review these two books together, because I read them in the past months and they are from the same author. And better be prepared, because one of the books will receive a negative review.
Let’s begin with Underworld London, that’s so much better than Bedlam. I have a thing for macabre and dark history, so I was always attracted by the books of Catharine Arnold. Underworld London it’s a long journey about the crime, the most famous criminals and the punishment in London.
We can read of assassin and murderers, from Newgate to Tyburn, from the middle age to the modern days. Each chapter is focused on a famous criminal of a location, but most of the times the author tends to divagate from the main topic. It’s okay, I can tolerate.
But there is a problem: a series of mistakes in one of the chapters. You maybe want to know that I’m obsessed with Jack The Ripper, so obviously I know a thing or two.
Well, in the so brief chapter about Jack and his murders, the main Inspector who conduct the investigations is named Abbeline. But everybody knows that his name is Frederick Abberline. I thought of a series of typos (it’s weird, but…) but then, I read Bedlam and a review on Goodreads has caught my attention: the reviewer says that there are a lot of errors about a character in this book.
Are you kidding me? A non-fiction book with poor research and a lot of mistakes about real people, and maybe other errors in god knows what. meybe there are mistakes about other people, or their crimes, or about the psychiatric treatment. I was so disappointed.
Bedlam is also the most muddler and chaotic book I ever read. I wanted to read about Bedlam, the hospital and the illness, the life inside the hospital and the most famous patients.
Instead, I’ve read chapter and chapters about all the supervisor of the hospital, about the land on where was the building, and a lot of digressions. A transantlantic of digressions.
It’s like: I want to read Harry Potter, instead I read a finnish manual about salmon.
I haven’t learned a single thing about the building I visited in December, and also the chapter about the Modern Bedlam, now the Imperial War Museum, is poor written. A couple of lines and that’s all. And it’s a shame because the museum is extraordinary.
I’m also disappointed because I already buy Necropolis from the same author. I don’t know if I want to read it.