book beginnings on Friday: The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.


I am pleased to be reading this hefty work of history regarding the Victorians’ fascination with murder – a relative rarity in that era – and the birth of the murder mystery genre in literature (as you know, that’s my favorite genre in fiction). And I’m pleased to share with you a great, and representative, book beginning:

“Pleasant it is, no doubt, to drink tea with your sweetheart, but most disagreeable to find her bubbling in the tea-urn.” So wrote Thomas de Quincey in 1826, and indeed, it is hard to argue with him. But even more pleasant, he thought, was to read about someone else’s sweetheart bubbling in the tea urn, and that, too, is hard to argue with, for crime, especially murder, is very pleasant to think about in the abstract: it is like hearing blustery rain on the windowpane when sitting indoors.

This statement is a little disturbing, but I think inarguable, and maps out where the book is heading.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

One Response

  1. […] am 98% sure that I was led to this story by a mention in Judith Flanders’s The Invention of Murder. I’m always up for some Poe; he’s batting 1000 with me. I have a complete works volume […]

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