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Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Release Date: February 2003
ISBN: 0060559748
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre: Nonfiction/Historical Crime [1779, London]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

Love & Madness
The Murder of Martha Ray, Mistress of the Fourth Earl of Sandwich

By Martin Levy

     Martha Ray, the beautiful mistress of the Earl of Sandwich was just coming out of Covent Garden theatre one evening in 1779 when she was shot and killed. Her assassin was a besotted would-be lover, the Reverend James Hackman. This extraordinary case soon became a cause celebre that attracted the attention of many notable figures of the day and makes fascinating reading over two hundred years after it occurred. Here are most of the perennial features that appeal to human nature – violence, scandal, high society, sex, religion and murder – and this illustrated book is sure to entertain.

     It doesn’t matter that this is not a novel for it reads like one, with the added dimension of it all being true. Martin Levy, veteran writer of many a popular history knows how to make his tale entertaining although this is not exactly difficult considering the material. What really appeals and fascinates about this book (and makes it stand above many novels) is the window it gives into the times, with an in-depth look at how people viewed passion, love, crime and their reflections in the arts. There is even Sir John Fielding in here, so readers of 18th century historical whodunits ought to love this – it is certainly destined for my own keeper shelves. Highly entertaining and engrossing.