The Case that Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England by Simon Read
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a fascinating read about an unsolved murder case that took place in Lower Quinton, a sleepy little Warwickshire village back in 1945.
Chief Inspector Robert Fabian of Scotland Yard was sent in to solve this grisly crime, as he was considered the best man for the job. But as the title suggests, it completely foiled him, and to this day, it remains unsolved.
Rumours of witchcraft and satanic worship in the picturesque village played a part in this real life murder mystery and the locals remained tight-lipped throughout the investigation. Nobody knew or saw anything. In such a small farming community, somebody somewhere must of seen or heard something, surely.
Fabian spent countless police hours trying to fathom out why Charles Walton was viciously attacked and killed with a pitchfork, his torso left pinned to the field where he was working that February morning. Who would do such a thing to this elderly gentleman?
What I enjoyed most of all about this fascinating book by Simon Read, wasn’t the main crime story itself. The author incorporated a thoroughly interesting insight into the early workings of police procedural and the establishment of the CID into the police force in early 1900’s England.
It’s incredible to think how the police themselves would completely ruin a crime scene, because their knowledge of forensics were somewhat limited. Filling a footprint with cement and examining clothing fibres was about as technical as it got back then! Luckily, Fabian was a breath of fresh air for our police force, and quickly made a name for himself as Scotland Yards most successful Inspector, with a habit of locking up countless criminals for murders, robberies and suchlike throughout his career.
The book covers various other crimes that Fabian was involved in solving, as well as very interesting chapters on Witchcraft and ancient Pagan traditions. In addition, there’s black and white photographs of the village of Lower Quinton, including the church and graveyard, as well as a macabre photo of the ACTUAL murder scene!
I gave this book 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because it was a very different read for me. I’m always reading crime fiction where the murder gets solved, forensics have all the tech and gadgets, and it’s a complete story. This non-fic, however, left me with lots of questions, and the fact that Fabian was foiled by whoever committed this gruesome crime, and actually got away with murder makes a real change.
I also liked the chapter about ‘The Beast’. And by that, I don’t mean Mark Labbett from The Chase! This is the original Beast, the one and only Aleister Crowley, the infamous occultist and ceremonial magician who reeked havoc and mayhem with his crazy, but rather intriguing beliefs!
Overall, this book was enjoyable because it was so educational, and the photos enhanced the experience. I learned a lot about the history of the police, it has reminded me that true crime is a great genre and I must read more of it. (Oh my poor TBR!)