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Authors: John Creasey

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The Masters of Bow Street

BOOK: The Masters of Bow Street
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Copyright & Information

The Masters of Bow Street

 

 

First published in 1974

Copyright: John Creasey Literary Management Ltd.; House of Stratus 1974-2010

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

 

The right of John Creaseyto be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.

 

This edition published in 2010 by House of Stratus, an imprint of

Stratus Books Ltd., Lisandra House, Fore Street, Looe,

Cornwall, PL13 1AD, UK.

 

Typeset by House of Stratus.

 

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library and the Library of Congress.

 

 
EAN
 
ISBN
 
Edition
 
 
0755114094
 
9780755114092
 
Print
 
 
0755118693
 
9780755118694
 
Pdf
 
 
075512572X
 
9780755125722
 
Kindle/Mobi
 
 
0755125711
 
9780755125715
 
Epub
 

 

This is a fictional work and all characters are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Any resemblance or similarities to persons either living or dead are entirely coincidental.

 

 

www.houseofstratus.com

 

 

About the Author

 

John Creasey – Master Storyteller - was born in Surrey, England in 1908 into a poor family in which there were nine children, John Creasey grew up to be a true master story teller and international sensation. His more than 600 crime, mystery and thriller titles have now sold 80 million copies in 25 languages. These include many popular series such as
Gideon of Scotland Yard, The Toff, Dr Palfrey and The Baron
.

Creasy wrote under many pseudonyms, explaining that booksellers had complained he totally dominated the ‘C’ section in stores. They included:

 

Gordon Ashe, M E Cooke, Norman Deane, Robert Caine Frazer, Patrick Gill, Michael Halliday, Charles Hogarth, Brian Hope, Colin Hughes, Kyle Hunt, Abel Mann, Peter Manton, J J Marric, Richard Martin, Rodney Mattheson, Anthony Morton and Jeremy York.

 

Never one to sit still, Creasey had a strong social conscience, and stood for Parliament several times, along with founding the
One Party Alliance
which promoted the idea of government by a coalition of the best minds from across the political spectrum.

He also founded the
British Crime Writers’ Association
, which to this day celebrates outstanding crime writing.
The Mystery Writers of America
bestowed upon him the
Edgar Award
for best novel and then in 1969 the ultimate
Grand Master Award
. John Creasey’s stories are as compelling today as ever.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Suddenly, James saw the lips of the man he hated part, and, as if some magic had been cast, the noise ceased and silence fell, broken by one man’s voice, which made the silence seem even deeper.

 

‘Hear me all who have come here to watch me die, to see my legs kicking and my body tossing, hear me. Never in the history of Tyburn was such a monstrous crime committed, never a more innocent man condemned. . .’

 

Four people besides the boy listened with intensity which matched his although none knew the others - except that the boy’s mother was one of them. Each was present with a special purpose; each had come early and found a point of vantage. Each had waited with enforced patience, knowing that the hanging could not be over too soon or the people would scream their rage in disappointment and nothing was uglier or more difficult to control than a riot at a hanging on Tyburn Hill.

There were some people here who hated, many who feared, and one who loved the man who was about to die.

 

 

BOOK I

1739–1746

 

1:  THE HATRED AND THE HANGING

There was the man who had killed his father; the man he hated as only a child who had been robbed of the man he had worshipped could hate.

Now, they were about to hang the murderer, and he, James Marshall, had come to see the hanging.

He was among the strident thousands, most of whom had come to gape for the pleasure of hearing the condemned man’s peroration, for this newly made ‘hero’ would surely die with words of defiance on his lips, would die in the midst of his turbulent, pulsating, vibrant life; a man in whom there had once been the seeds of greatness.

And the seeds of evil.

The boy, who was ten years old on this fifteenth of September 1739, did not know but sensed these things; could not explain the thoughts in his mind or the thumping of his heart or the mist which sometimes covered his eyes.

James, son of Richard and of Ruth Marshall, had come not in vengeance but to see vengeance done. He had followed the carts containing the manacled prisoners from Newgate Prison, each sitting on his own coffin in the groaning, creaking tumbrel, and had watched when, with the others who were to be hanged, his father’s murderer had been half carried, half led into the alehouse to have his last free drink and make his last macabre joke.

Today there were two carts carrying seventeen condemned men headed for Tyburn. Most, by some strange miracle, behaved as if they were going not to their executions but to their weddings, although one youth, who could be no more than sixteen or seventeen, sat staring straight ahead of him. Most were dressed in their best or else in borrowed finery, but Frederick Jackson was by far the most resplendent. He wore a bright-green velvet coat with elaborate brown trimming, a nosegay of fresh flowers surely made by someone out of love for him, and breeches of bright-yellow velvet, the knees tied with multicoloured ribbons. In his two-coloured hat he had a huge white cockade, a silent declaration of his innocence.

In the cart with him, two were dressed already in their shrouds. Also in the cart was the Ordinary of Newgate, a prison chaplain concerned more in extorting confessions from each man so that he could publish and sell them tomorrow and in the weeks to follow. In between his pleadings for confessions were mechanical words of comfort, but wine was a greater comforter than any God this priest could conjure up.

As they had left the alehouse, the Bow Tavern in St. Giles, one of London’s foulest rookeries and a city of vice within the metropolis, Frederick Jackson had shouted to the mob: ‘Harken to me, fellow citizens! I am in the mood for singing. Who knows “As clever Tom Clinch. . .”?’

A roar of approval had cut across his words, and like a bandmaster he had used his hand as an imaginary baton and had led the singing:

 

‘As clever Tom Clinch, while the rabble was bawling, Rode stately through Holborn to die in his calling, He stopped at The George for a bottle of sack. And promised to pay for it on his way back!’

 

There, on the steps of the alehouse, the landlord had roared the words as loud as any. Even the hangman had chanted, and was smiling broadly now as he slipped the ropes over the condemned men’s heads.

 

On that mellow autumn day in 1739 the boy stood on the fringe of the milling crowd at Tyburn Fields on a rise in the stony earth from which were visible the carts and the gallows, the black-draped preacher and the victims. But the boy saw only Jackson, his dark head held back, sharp chin thrust upward and outward, the noose not yet tight about his neck. Between the boy and the murderer were the thousands of sightseers, yet he saw no one; not man or woman or suckling babe or skirt-clinging child. No seller of ballads or pamphlets telling of the dying speeches of rogues who had died this way before; no seller of oranges or chestnuts, of gin or beer, of coarse bread dipped in beef drippings or mutton fat; no seller of pasties or of tarts, black puddings or favours; none of the gentry and their ladies seated in the windows of nearby houses or on especially constructed stands near the place of execution. All were agog to hear what Frederick Jackson, whom many thought a bolder villain than Jonathan Wild, would say in the minutes left to him before the horses were thwacked and made to bolt, so that the cart was jerked from beneath his feet and he and the others were left dangling and kicking.

The boy did not really see the other condemned men. He saw no whores, no pickpockets, no stealthy probing hands; James Marshall, son of a murdered man, son of a thief-taker, son of a God, was vividly aware only of Jackson’s black head and, perhaps in wish-demanded fancy, Jackson’s flashing dark eyes, the bright clothes and the brave medals stolen from some dead hero.

He heard no single voice, but all the voices. The chants of the tiny religious groups that had come to sing and pray for Jackson’s soul, the shouts of the hawkers, the raucous voices of men whose hands were slapped from some pretty girl’s breasts or buttocks or, if the press were tight enough, from the warmth between her thighs. He did not hear the preachers calling on Jackson to repent or the dozens of men and women crying out: ‘Dying confessions, as written by the Ordinary of Newgate - one penny.’ These were true enough, although the confessions were not of today’s victims but those of the last mass execution, two weeks ago.

Suddenly, James saw the lips of the man he hated part, and, as if some magic had been cast, the noise ceased and silence fell, broken by one man’s voice, which made the silence seem even deeper.

‘Hear me all who have come here to watch me die, to see my legs kicking and my body tossing, hear me. Never in the history of Tyburn was such a monstrous crime committed, never a more innocent man condemned. . .’

Four people besides the boy listened with intensity which matched his although none knew the others - except that the boy’s mother was one of them. Each was present with a special purpose; each had come early and found a point of vantage. Each had waited with enforced patience, knowing that the hanging could not be over too soon or the people would scream their rage in disappointment and nothing was uglier or more difficult to control than a riot at a hanging on Tyburn Hill.

There were some people here who hated, many who feared, and one who loved the man who was about to die.

 

She was Eve Milharvey - the condemned man’s mistress; in all but name, his wife, as beautiful as the years could leave a woman in her thirties who had been ravaged by the brothels and the stink and the torment of London; a woman who, had she been carefully nurtured and protected and married to a man who respected even if he did not love her, would have been the mother of a family now and mistress not of a murderer, thief, cheat and fraud, but of a household.

BOOK: The Masters of Bow Street
12.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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