The following review appeared in edition 160 of Ripperologist magazine.
TRIAL OF LOUISE MASSET (NOTABLE BRITISH TRIALS)
INTRODUCTION AND EDITED BY KATE CLARKE
London: Mango Books, 2018 www.MangoBooks.co.uk www.kateclarke.co.uk hardcover & ebook 261pp; Illus; appendices; index ISBN: 9781911273271 hardcover & ISBN: 9781911273288 ebook £20 hardcover & £7.99 ebook
Trial of Louise Masset is the 85th volume in the Notable British Trials and the second volume in the revived new series launched last year with Trial of Israel Lipski. The new series has the same look and feel of the original, right down to the boards and dust jacket.
Notable British Trials provides the best available transcript of the court proceedings and invites you into the courtroom to follow a trial as it unfolded, allowing you to read the actual words spoken by the witnesses and get as close to the case as it’s possible to get. But the real value of the book is the expertly-written and detailed introduction which explores the intricacies of the case. The introduction to Trial of Louise Masset runs to 64-pages and is written by Kate Clarke, a superb author whose Murder at the Priory is probably the best account of the celebrated Bravo mystery.
Louise Masset has the distinction of being the first person to be executed in England in the twentieth century. She had been found guilty of murdering her son, three-year-old Manfred, whose bludgeoned, suffocated, and still-warm body was discovered on Friday, 27 October 1899, on the floor of a lavatory on Dalston Junction Railway Station. Louise claimed that she had caught the 4:30p.m. train to Brighton, where she had gone to spend the weekend with her lover, Eudore Lucas, and therefore was not anywhere near Dalston when the murder must have been committed. However, an eye-witness testified to having seen her at the station much later. Louise also spoke of two women into whose care she had entrusted her son, but no evidence could be found that these potential baby farmers actually existed.
In mid-December 1899, Louise Masset was tried at the Old Bailey for the murder of her son. She was found guilty and hanged on 9 January 1900.
Notable British Trials is a very special series, probably the only one that is concerned with and which follows the trial rather that the commission or investigation of a crime, and of particular value when there are unresolved questions, as there are in the Louise Masset case, which raise doubts about the solidity of the conviction. With serious and scholarly introductions, the series is a must have.
Review by Paul Begg.