The Murder of Mary Ashford is another incredibly well researched book by Naomi Clifford, which I very much enjoyed reading. I love historical true crime because of the social history details and there are plenty in this book. Naomi has given very credible reasons for her conclusions on what really happened to Mary, who I confess I had not heard of before this book. I feel that she has now given Mary the justice that she deserved and didn’t receive in 1817. –Jayne, Good Reads
On every page is evidence of the author’s painstaking research – she has clearly done a lot of preparatory work for the book, locating people, places, and the law, and utilising her knowledge well. On occasion, you may need to reread a section, or have to concentrate to understand it all, purely because there is so much information to take in – but it is clear that this is a methodically researched history, which is always good to see.
It’s also well illustrated and the image are chosen sensitively. There are photos of buildings mentioned, drawings from court, and illustrations of both the murder victim and the accused. Naomi makes clear that the victim’s portraits are idealised (and they are certainly fairly generic), but a contemporary newspaper’s portrayal of Abraham really makes him a flesh and blood creature for the reader.
What Naomi Clifford does particularly well is her placing of Mary Ashford’s murder into its context, but she also shows how its brutality ‘became a marker against which the murders of women were compared’. Comparisons were made in the press between Mary’s murder and subsequent ones; it became something of a cause celebre for the next half century and even beyond. And what happened to the man who was acquitted of Mary’s murder, the unpleasant Abraham Thornton? You’ll have to read The Murder of Mary Ashford to find out more. –Nell Darby, Criminal Historian
This interesting work re-examines this intriguing case in a fresh and comprehensive manner, delving deep into detail, exploring both the events leading up to the murder and those that preceded it. Naomi Clifford also reminds us why this case is still relevant today and how it changed English Law. She even has a possible identity for the killer. This is another great offering from the hand that gave us Women and the Gallows. –Cotswold Life, August 2018
The Murder of Mary Ashford is another incredibly well researched book by Naomi Clifford, which I very much enjoyed reading. I love historical true crime because of the social history details and there are plenty in this book. Naomi has given very credible reasons for her conclusions on what really happened to Mary, who I confess I had not heard of before this book. I feel that she has now given Mary the justice that she deserved and didn’t receive in 1817.
A fascinating re-examination of one of Birmingham’s most notorious murders, exploring not only the events and evidence directly relating to the case but also the social context in which it took place & the role this played in its outcome. Naomi’s research is thorough & the conclusions she draws from it convincing, and for me, finally answer the questions surrounding the death of Mary Ashford. Highly readable and highly recommended.
A very well written book explaining the case in comprehensive detail. I liked the fact that it has a character introduction at the beginning explaining about each person who was involved. Both perspectives are presented for and against Thornton’s guilt based upon the evidence and the author has included reference to various fictional accounts that were written afterwards based on the case. Highly recommended and Clifford’s final person evaluation based on the known evidence was a satisfying and fitting end to the book.
Naomi Clifford’s writing is clear, accessible and engaging – and this account of a notorious Birmingham case is a real page turner. Naomi’s feminist reappraisal of this crime looks at what happened from the point of view of the woman at the heart of the story – something most true crime writers forget, and she comes up with a credible explanation of the events. She has found evidence ignored for 200 years that identifies the perpetrator.
The crime did change English legal history, but the most interesting parts of the book relate to the history of rape prosecutions and the way women were viewed by society.
This fresh look at a two-centuries-old crime brings new knowledge and painstaking original research to bear on a once-famous case. Naomi Clifford forensically sets out the death of Mary Ashford and its incredible aftermath, giving modern readers a unique perspective on what might or might not have happened, and presenting her own convincing conclusions. A recommended read for anyone interested in history or the law.