The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream

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The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream takes readers to the late nineteenth century as Scotland Yard follows the trail of a cold-blooded serial killer who was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper and who would finally be brought to justice by detectives employing a new science called forensics.

“When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.” In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten women in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1891, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.”