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The anatomy murders : being the true and spectacular history of Edinburgh's notorious Burke and Hare, and of the man of science who abetted them in the commission of their most heinous crimes

by Lisa Rosner

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Library Journal review, September 2009   (2009-10-14)


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by rosnerl

From 1827 to 1828, William Burke and William Hare murdered 16 people in order to meet demands for corpses to be used in medical research, and Dr. Robert Knox paid them for the delivery of fresh cadavers. The term burking was coined for their manner of killing by chest compression and smothering, which left little or no evidence. Rosner (history, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; The Most Beautiful Man in Existence: The Scandalous Life of Alexander Lesassier) has conducted extensive research about the first serial killers to receive media attention. She devotes a chapter to each of the victims and covers the fabric of history as Britain headed slowly into the modern age. Quotes from witnesses abound, as do old portraits and street maps of Edinburgh, Scotland, where these murders occurred. Anatomists, body snatchers, judicial authorities, attorneys, police, and forensic witnesses also play roles. VERDICT This will be enjoyed by true crime fans as well as British history buffs. Engaging, atmospheric, and tantalizing.—Krista Bush, Univ. of New Haven Lib., West Haven, CT

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