Emboldened by the blind trust afforded to physicians, and aided by flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and the stifling morality of Victorian society, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream brazenly murdered as many as 10 people in the United States, Britain and Canada in the late 19th century before he was brought to justice.
Award-winning author and journalist Dean Jobb documents the chilling story of one of the first international serial killers in “The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer.” Jobb will discuss the book with mystery writer Art Taylor during a History Book Festival virtual program at 5 p.m., Thursday, July 22.
A question-and-answer session will follow the authors’ conversation.
The Zoom-based program is free, but preregistration is required. To reserve a spot, go to historybookfestival.org.
”The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream” transports readers to the late 1800s when, over a span of 15 years, Cream targeted desperate, vulnerable women who came to him for medical advice.
As Cream used his knowledge of poisons to conceal his crimes, Scotland Yard methodically traced the doctor’s movements through Canada and Chicago, and finally to London, where new investigative tools called forensics were just coming into use.
Most police agencies at the time scoffed at using science to solve crimes, and few could imagine the existence of senseless killers who murdered simply for the sake of killing.
Jobb is the author of eight previous books, including “Empire of Deception,” which the Chicago Writers Association recognized as the Nonfiction Book of the Year in 2015. He writes a monthly true-crime column for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and is a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Taylor has won several awards for his short fiction; his debut novel, “On the Road with Del & Louise,” won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2015. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
The program is part of the 2021 History Book Festival, which features noted authors of newly published historical fiction and nonfiction works. Virtual events will occur weekly through the end of August.
Copies of “The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream” are available at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, the official bookseller of the History Book Festival. Biblion in Lewes also has copies of the book for sale. Books purchased at either shop come with a signed archival bookplate.
Presenting sponsors of the 2021 festival are Delaware Humanities and the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty.
In addition to the Lewes Public Library, the festival’s virtual programs are supported by the Delaware Division of Libraries and Sussex County Libraries.
Now in its fifth year, the History Book Festival is the first and only book festival in the United States devoted exclusively to history.