Review published on December 18, 2016.
The Real Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Story of Jerome Caminada by family historian Angela Buckley takes us back to Victorian Manchester and the man said to have been the inspiration behind Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. At the same time, this book is an interpretation of Manchester’s urban history during the latter part of the nineteenth century.
Today, much of Manchester looks similar to Victorian Manchester, although those of us who study and write about the city’s history would tell you that looks can be deceiving. Deansgate at the start of Caminada’s career in the Manchester Police was a lot narrower than it is today. It was home to quite a few rookeries and was cheek by jowl with King Street and St Ann’s Square. Not only was it home to some notorious criminals, it was also part of Caminada’s beat.
Born in Ancoats, a mixture of slum housing and some middle class houses along with warehouse and mills, Caminada was a member of the large Italian community that resided there. From there he would rise to become one of Manchester’s most important police officers during the latter part of Queen Victoria’s reign. He went from police constable to the rank of superintendent and served every area of the city. He had a reputation as a brilliant thief catcher.
Angela Buckley charts his thirty-year career as a Manchester police officer and provides some interesting insights into both the character of Jerome Caminada and some of the cases he became famous for. She even introduces Caminada’s very own Moriarty, a professional thief and very dangerous man who blamed him for being arrested and imprisoned for a few years.
This is a fascinating account for all those who like a mixture of social history, urban history and true crime stories. It provides an intriguing insight into Caminada’s attempts to clean up Manchester. It really is an interesting book. It’s well worth reading and then investigating Manchester’s Victorian criminal history – you will discover a totally different world.
Paul Diggett 4/3
The Real Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Story of Jerome Caminada by Angela Buckley
Pen & Sword Books 9781781592694 hbk Mar 2014
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