The murders revisited range from the ‘French Ripper’ Joseph Vacher, who roamed the French countryside brutally murdering and mutilating over twenty shepherds and shepherdesses, to H.H. Holmes, who built a hotel in Chicago to entrap, murder and dispose of its many guests. Crime expert Dr Drew Gray illuminates the details of each case, recounting both the horrifying particulars of the crimes themselves and the ingenious detective work that led to the eventual capture of the murderers.
He highlights the development of police methods and technology: from the introduction of the police whistle to the standardization of the mugshot and from the invention of fingerprinting to the use of radio telegraphy to capture criminals. Disturbing crime-scene photographs by pioneers of policework, such as Alphonse Bertillon, and contemporary illustrations from the sensationalist magazines of the day, including the Illustrated Police News and the Petit Journal, complete the macabre picture.