The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer

Algonquin. Jul. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781616206895. $27.95. CRIME
Jobb (creative nonfiction, Univ. of King’s Coll., Halifax, Nova Scotia; Empire of Deception) profiles the physician Thomas Neill Cream, a serial killer who was a contemporary of Jack the Ripper. Between 1877 and 1892, Cream poisoned victims in Canada, the United States, and England, using strychnine capsules that he created himself. Cream, known as the Lambeth Poisoner, targeted mostly sex workers or women in need of his abortion services, but he was not averse to killing closer to home—his young wife numbered among his victims. Jobb’s research is excellent, though his frequent use of quotations can be jarring to the narrative flow. Even after Cream sent detailed blackmail letters trying to shift the blame for the murders to wealthy and influential public figures, and became overly friendly with officials at Scotland Yard, he nevertheless went undiscovered for years due to shoddy police work and misogyny, Jobb argues, because police often dismissed Cream’s victims as undeserving of justice. Period photos and reproductions of Cream’s letters round out the work.
VERDICT Jobb’s compelling account of Cream’s reign of terror will appeal to readers interested in Jack the Ripper or Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
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