More dastardly than Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel; more vile than the dense fog of a London Particular, an arch-fiend prowls the Victorian city streets. Nobody is safe from his experiments, whether peer or prostitute, preacher or policeman in this in this shocking tale of murder. Will Inspector Albert Sutton, aided by his wife Nell and her cat, be able to unmask and apprehend the heartless serial killer, or will they become the next novelty specimens of the Death Collector?
In this riveting melodrama, Toni Mount explores the darker side of Victorian London, creating a gripping thriller packed with shocking murders, unexpected twists and chilling suspense.
Read it if you dare…
This book takes a much darker turn than your previous novels. What led you to write this murder mystery?
The Death Collector actually pre-dates the Seb Foxley novels and began as an on-going story for the Creative Writing Group that I belong to which meets twice a month. I would write a chapter to be read out at each session – that’s why the chapters are quite short. Being an avid reader of crime novels, I’ve wondered at how many serial killers are tracked down because they use the same means of murder, choose similar victims or prowl a limited location, at least in novels. So I set myself the remit of a killer without a consistent modus operandi – how could the police solve these seemingly unconnected, random murders? I made each death as horrific but different as I could imagine, so much so, other members of the writing group began to worry if my family was safe. None has met a grisly end nor suffered torture – so far. The cat was added just for fun because there are some cat-lovers in the group. And the story just grew…
How much of this book is based on true crime?
Many of the Death Collector’s crimes really happened, beginning with the first-ever murder on a railway train that was pretty much how I described it, though our perpetrator’s part in the deadly act is my invention. The Ripper killings follow the facts to a certain extent with a bit of artistic licence to make them fit my story. Unsolved Murders in Victorian and Edwardian London by Jonathan Oates supplied other ideas about murderers of the era which I put to deadly use. Many of the high-ranking policemen were real – poor Frederick Adolphus ‘Dolly’ Williamson did die ‘unexpectedly’, believing his nephew was the serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Some of the victims were real too, but if the reader truly wants to know who existed and who was invented by me… I’ll let them play the detective and solve those mysteries.
What drew you to the Victorian era for this serial killer story?
That’s an easy question to answer. Modern forensic techniques are too scientific and detract from the human ingenuity elements of old-fashioned detective work, sorting the valuable clues from a heap of dross. The Victorian policeman only had photography, fingerprints and, latterly, ballistics to help him track down the murderer. I like to keep things simple, so no computerised information, bank account details, ANPR or SatNav equipment, etc. just notebooks and leg-work and, most wonderful of all: hardly any paperwork.
How did you research your detective?
Albert Sutton’s character and appearance are based on my Dad – also named Albert. He wasn’t a policeman but he was always brilliant at problem-solving and working stuff out. Otherwise, Albert is a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson with a dash of Hercule Poirot.
I do hope you enjoy my book!