Deadly Triangle: The Famous Architect, His Wife, Their Chauffeur, and Murder Most Foul

Dundurn. Nov. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781459750302. pap. $19.99. CRIME
Goldenberg’s (Snatched! The Peculiar Kidnapping of Beer Tycoon John Labatt) latest true-crime book also presents a deeply researched three-dimensional biography of Francis Rattenbury, a wealthy British Canadian architect/developer and his second wife Alma Clarke, a pianist with a budding career. Francis had left his first wife for Alma, but then as Francis’s health declined, Alma began an affair with the couple’s chauffeur. When Francis was found dead in England in 1935, Alma and her lover were arrested and tried for his murder. Goldenberg gives readers a day-by-day account of the trial and highlights contemporary newspaper accounts and sensational headlines. These accounts, aided by Goldenberg’s own research, contextualizes the crime in its era, at a time when the affair was treated as much of a scandal as the murder, and women’s behaviors were viewed through the narrow lens of gendered clichés. Although gripping, the narrative is sometimes disrupted by Goldenberg’s explanations of minutiae such as inflation calculations and basic British terminology. The final chapter reads like an afterthought and a somewhat superficial analogy to Dostoevsky.
VERDICT In spite of its flaws, this book is likely to appeal to true-crime fans. Goldenberg’s style titillates with the skill of a good gossip columnist, armed with the tools of both a criminalist and a historian.
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