Review by Gill Carr
A novel based on a true crime which happened in 1935 is, to be perfectly honest, not a book I would normally go for. Yet, after a recent online talk by the author about the events which inspired it, I was intrigued enough to buy a copy and I’m really pleased I did.
It’s no spoiler to say that the life of Marjory Fenwick is irrevocably changed one August evening when her sweetheart Danny Kerrigan is shot and she is attacked as they stroll along Cuddies Strip, a local Lovers Lane in Perth, Scotland. What follows is not just attempts by Police to bring the culprit to justice but also a look into the world of early forensic science techniques along with insights into the truly horrifying and inhumane way Marjory – the victim of a serious sexual assault – is viewed and treated by many of the police officers, members of the medical profession, the courts and the public she encounters following the crime. Her perceived morals, previous relationship history, honesty and most importantly whether her virginity was intact prior to the assault, all prove to be great talking points for those concerned in the investigation and subsequent trial. As I read on I felt outraged at attitudes directed toward Marjory, then tried to comfort myself thinking how much we have moved on in society, then remembering……perhaps not.
Something else which hasn’t changed much is the desire by some members of the public to hoover up each and every salacious detail and make clear their own views on all aspects of a crime, the victims and the perpetrator. Those who so choose may be able to hide behind their keyboards and social media accounts nowadays, back then the public picnicked at crime scenes or gravesites, they carried out their own searches looking for clues, they made comment in person directly to the families involved and of course they queued in their droves to attend the trial and pored over every detail in the newspapers.
Cuddies Strip is a fascinating read on so many levels. It is packed with historical detail and interest yet wears its research lightly. I highly recommend it.
You can follow Gill Carr on Twitter at @ellie99.