Dancing For The Hangman - Readers' Group Information
The story of Dr Crippen is one of the most famous and controversial murder cases of all time. One hundred years after he was hanged for murdering and mutilating his wife, the failed music hall singer Belle Elmore, arguments still rage about whether he was innocent.
This literary crime novel offers a unique perspective on one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating real life stories of love, deceit and horrific violence. It is the first novel ever to be written from the point of view of Crippen himself, and it keeps more scrupulously to the established facts than any of the previous fictional versions of the case.
The story intertwines Crippen’s reflections on the bizarre sequence of events that have led him to the shadow of the gallows with extracts from the evidence given at his trial at the Old Bailey and other authentic documents – giving fresh insight into one of the strangest murder cases of all time, and with a final twist that indicates that the real murder was not that of Mrs Crippen after all.
In advance of publication, the novel has already won extensive praise from several of the UK’s leading crime novelists:
'An intriguing story told with intelligence, compassion and very great skill.'
'Martin Edwards dissects not only the facts but also the gaps and uncertainties in the historical record. This novel may bring us as close to the truth about Crippen as we are ever likely to get.'
'Martin Edwards has found an utterly compelling angle on the Crippen case, combining chills and poignancy in a highly original way.'
Suggested discussion points for readers’ groups
- Did the telling of the story encourage you to sympathise with Crippen, or despise him?
- Did the interweaving of trial evidence and other documents help you to appreciate the detail of the case or did you prefer to focus on Crippen’s first person narrative?
- How reliable a narrator was Crippen, in your opinion?
- What knowledge, if any, do you think Ethel had of what had happened to Crippen’s wife?
- Why do you think Ethel wore Mrs Crippen’s brooch to the Criterion Ball?
- Did you regard Inspector Dew as a successful detective or someone who dropped lucky?
- How did you interpret the character and role of Arthur Newton?
- The story is framed by short scenes set in the present day – did this device work effectively, or was it unnecessary?
- After reading the story, do you think Crippen was guilty of murder, or innocent?
Dancing for the Hangman costs £8.99 and is published by Flambard Press in November 2008.