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ADAM WOOD - SWANSON VICTORIAN DETECTIVE

Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the remote far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867 at the age of 19 and initially working as a City clerk.


The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. 35 years later he retired as Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, the top detective in the country.


Set against the backdrop of the developing Metropolitan Police, this book tells the story of a life and career which included railway murderers, grave robbers, fraudulent mediums, Jack the Ripper, the Philosopher’s Stone, Fenian dynamite campaigns, shocking revelations about the aristocracy and a crazed captain with sea serpents in a bottle.


Linking it all together is Donald Swanson, whose application letter to the Metropolitan Police spoke of a desire for “a good opening”. After reading his story, the reader will be left in little doubt that he made the most of the opportunities which came his way.

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8/1/2020

INDECENT ADVANCES - JAMES POLCHIN

Stories of murder have never been just about killers and victims. Instead, crime stories take the shape of their times and reflect cultural notions and prejudices. In this Edgar Award–finalist for Best Fact Crime, James Polchin recovers and recounts queer stories from the crime pages―often lurid and euphemistic―that reveal the hidden history of violence against gay men. But what was left unsaid in these crime pages provides insight into the figure of the queer man as both criminal and victim, offering readers tales of vice and violence that aligned gender and sexual deviance with tragic, gruesome endings. Victims were often reported as having made “indecent advances,” forcing the accused's hands in self-defense and reducing murder charges to manslaughter.As noted by Caleb Cain in The New Yorker review of Indecent Advances, “it’s impossible to understand gay life in twentieth-century America without reckoning with the dark stories. Gay men were unable to shake free of them until they figured out how to tell the stories themselves, in a new way.” Indecent Advances is the first book to fully investigate these stories of how queer men navigated a society that criminalized them and displayed little compassion for the violence they endured. Polchin shows, with masterful insight, how this discrimination was ultimately transformed by activists to help shape the burgeoning gay rights movement in the years leading up to Stonewall.