In the quiet Worcestershire village of Oddingley, in the year 1806, the local vicar George Parker was found shot and beaten to death in his own glebe fields, following a long period of conflict and aggression between him and a number of his villagers.
This set off a chain of events and subsequent trials that became one of the most notorious true crimes of the century – made all the more fascinating in that the investigation came under the remit of parish constables and local magistrates, as there was no police force at the time.
As with all good murder stories, there were a number of suspects and a sinister second killing.
The Oddingley Murders are now the subject of a quite excellent book “Damn His Blood”, an astonishingly confident debut book by Peter Moore.
If you enjoyed “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher” this is a read you’ll really enjoy. In fact I think Mr Moore’s book surpasses the recently published accounts of the more famous Road Hill House murder.
Oddingley was a very small village. Peter Moore introduces us to most of the villagers. Who they were, what they were doing at the time of the crime, and tells us whether they bore Mr Parker a grudge.
This is superb and gripping writing, really conjuring up a Midlands village of that time, during a particularly lawless age.
I really felt I was there, walking the fields, following the victim on his last journey, and looking over the shoulders of the investigators.
It’s a tale not just of murder but of conspiracy.
I couldn’t put this one down. Do seek it out. It’s the best true crime I’ve read in years.