I have just finished reading and reviewing Dean Jobb’s The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2021), due out later this month. As soon as the review is published on the internet, I’ll post the URL here.
Set in the late nineteenth century, Cream’s story is remarkable because he was a respectable and educated man—a physician—who nevertheless committed as many as ten murders in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. before he was caught, tried, and executed.
The book, unfortunately, is of a genre I’m not partial to: researched in depth and complete down to the minutest detail. But if I am to be fair, my personal taste cannot dictate the judgment expressed in the review. So I took a deep breath and buried myself in the particulars of Cream’s life and morbid career. The description of his execution by hanging was as detailed and specific as the rest of the text. Given my opposition to the death penalty, that section of the book was especially difficult for me.
The end result was, I hope, a fair description and judgment of a very good book of a type I don’t like. I believe that I gave readers an impartial description of a Victorian murder story. It’s up to them to decide if they want to expend the hours necessary to absorb it.
That’s what happens when one agrees to review books written by others: some are to this particular reader’s taste, others not. Personal likes and dislikes cannot shape the outcome.