“A tour de force of storytelling.” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Gamache series
“Jobb’s excellent storytelling makes the book a pleasure to read.” —The New York Times Book Review
”When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.” In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream murdered as many as ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedent. Poison was his weapon of choice. Largely forgotten today, this villain was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper.
Structured around the doctor’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Dr. Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.
Dean Jobb transports readers to the late nineteenth century as Scotland Yard traces Dr. Cream’s life through Canada and Chicago and finally to London, where new investigative tools called forensics were just coming into use, even as most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then, most investigators could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown. As the Chicago Tribune wrote, Dr. Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer: one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.” For fans of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, all things Sherlock Holmes, or the podcast My Favorite Murder, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is an unforgettable true crime story from a master of the genre.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In this chilling true-crime story, journalist Dean Jobb introduces Dr. Thomas Neill Cream: a Scots-Canadian surgeon who murdered nearly a dozen people in the United States, Britain, and Canada during the 1800s. Jobb’s book centers on the lengthy investigation of Cream’s murders. He was under investigation for years before he was finally put on trial in 1892, during which time he tried to pin the deaths on everyone from Jack the Ripper to London bookseller W.H. Smith. Many issues raised by Cream’s decade-plus killing spree—the abuse of trust between doctors and patients, the ease with which high-status men are able to exploit women, police disinterest in trying too hard to solve the murders of sex workers—feel incredibly resonant today. Jobb also digs into the fascinating history of forensic science to understand how evidence was gathered and interpreted more than a century ago. Packed with details that will keep you up at night, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is a creepy and fascinating read.
Jobb (Empire of Deception) provides the definitive account of serial poisoner Thomas Neill Cream in this enthralling real-life thriller. Born in Scotland in 1850, Cream moved with his family to Montreal, Canada, where he earned his medical degree at McGill University. He became a respected member of his London, Ontario, community, while leading a murderous double life. After the body of a woman with whom Cream was alleged to have had an affair was found near his office in 1879, a victim of chloroform poisoning, he became a suspect and fled to the U.S. In Chicago, he became a person of interest in several deaths and was convicted in 1881 of poisoning a patient. When his life sentence was commuted in 1891, Cream immigrated to England, where his murder of several prostitutes in London with strychnine led to his arrest and execution in 1892. (It was also mooted that he could have been Jack the Ripper, though he was in prison in Illinois at the time of the Ripper killings.) Jobb nicely places this grim story in context, as Cream's London trial created a precedent for the admission of similar uncharged crimes as evidence and exposed massive Scotland Yard failures that left Cream free to kill more people until he was finally apprehended. Jobb's extensive research pays off in a true-crime masterpiece that will easily sit alongside The Devil in the White City.