Murder Aboard by C. Michael Hiam

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Of course, they blamed the minority and not the previously incarcerated crazy dude.

Quick synopsis: A true crime story about murders aboard a ship in 1896.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Canadians used to call New England the “Boston States.” I feel like everywhere but Boston would find that offensive.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: It sucked being a second mate. You couldn’t eat with the captain and the first mate and you couldn’t eat with the sailors. You ate alone after the captain and first mate did.

My Take: I definitely could have gotten away with murder in 1896. Hear me out.

This book really details just how inept (and racist!) law enforcement was at the time. It is not a spoiler to say that by the time the ship pulls in there is a story the whole crew is sticking to and they will not deviate. Even though it is pretty clear the (literal) crazy person is not the main subject and even though the actual “facts” don’t make any sense.

Basically, in 1896, I would just need to convince 2 people that the violent felony I was sent to an insane asylum for has nothing to do with the triple murder that occurred. No sir.

It helps if you can find yourself a minority to pin it on. Or at least half a minority, maybe. Actually, we aren’t even sure the guy they pinned it on was a minority. He might just be good at getting a tan! Racism doesn’t need to make sense.

Verdict: Short book and competently done. If you like historical true crime, then this is right up your alley.

If You Liked This Try:

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  • Mike Dash, Batavia’s Graveyard
  • Miriam C. Davis, The Axeman of New Orleans
  • Skip Hollandsworth, The Midnight Assassin
  • Gregg Olsen, Starvation Heights
  • J. Robinson, Mystery on the Isle of Shoals
  • Douglas Starr, The Killer of Little Shepherds
  • Victoria Bruce and William Oldfield, Inspector Oldfield and the Black Hand Society
  • Simon Baatz, The Girl on the Velvet Swing
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Murder Aboard by C. Michael Hiam
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