Saturday, December 9, 2023

Library List Review - The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream

Goodreads:  The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb

Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)
Source:   Library

Description:  “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 poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’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 Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, 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.”
Genre: Nonfiction - Historical True Crime 

Why I Picked This Book:  I like historical true crime and I had never heard of this case.  This year I used a random number generator on my library list and this book's number got picked.  

My Impression: I've watched a lot of true crime but Thomas Cream is not a name I've come across.  This was an account of the crimes committed by him in the late 1800s in the US, Canada, and England.  It's both an interesting look at society during that time and terrifying to see just what someone could get away with if they had enough confidence.  Cream isn't the most brilliant of criminals but he's persistent and audacious.

This was an interesting story with a good pace.  My only real issue was I found the timeline a bit confusing at times.  The author does put the dates at the beginning of the chapter but it didn't feel like I was getting a good progression of criminal acts.  

Despite this the story was still interesting and a good luck at life especially in London at the time Cream was active.  If you've ever been interested in historical crime this is a good read on a surprisingly unknown criminal.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would.  Other than my issue with the timeline I enjoyed this book.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you're interested in historical true crime this is an interesting read.


  1. Seems the Victorian era had their share of serial killers. Here's another one.

  2. I've never heard of this historical case either! I do like reading books about this era.

  3. True crime I never read as so much of it in newspapers etc. But this would be fascinating from the perspective of the era, and the wide reaching crime spree.

  4. I have watched and read some fictional books based on this crime. Great review!

  5. Interesting. I don't read much true crime and I never heard of this one. Sounds good, though.