Thursday 20 April 2023

BLOG TOUR: Queens of the Underworld - Caitlin Davies

Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, Ronnie Biggs, the Krays … All have become folk heroes, glamorised and romanticised, even when they killed. But where are all the female crooks? Where are the street robbers, gang leaders, diamond thieves, bank robbers and gold smugglers?

Queens of the Underworld reveals the incredible story of professional female criminals from the 17th century to today. From Moll Cutpurse who ruled the Jacobean underworld, to Victorian jewel thief Emily Lawrence and 1960s burglar Zoe Progl, these were charismatic women at the top of their game.

But female criminals have long been dismissed as either not ‘real women’ or not ‘real criminals’, and in the process their stories have been lost. Caitlin Davies unravels the myths, confronts the lies, and tracks down modern-day descendants in order to tell the truth about their lives.

What did I think?

Queens of the Underworld is a fascinating non-fiction book that's really easy to read as each chapter leads nicely on to the next one.  You may have never heard of any of the women in this book but that's something that Caitlin Davies aims to put right by giving these women their rightful place in history.

As I was reading about all of these women I had never heard of, I wondered how on earth their stories had been lost when we know all about their male counterparts.  It was only as I got to one of the latter chapters that I recognised a story, although her name wasn't familiar to me at first.  

It must have taken quite a lot of research to uncover these long buried stories so I really must applaud Caitlin Davies for shining a spotlight on these remarkable women.  I loved how each woman was brought to life along with some insights into the era in which they were living.  Reading this book has made me want to find out more about these extraordinary women.  

Insightful and fascinating, Queens of the Underworld is a very well-written and captivating account of unforgettable women who had almost been forgotten.  A recommended read for anyone who loves true crime and history.

I chose to read and review an ARC for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:
Caitlin Davies is the author of six novels and eight non-fiction books, many of which have a criminal theme. The Ghost of Lily Painter was based on the true story of two Edwardian baby farmers, while Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison was the first comprehensive history of Europe’s most infamous female jail. It was nominated for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, 2019.

Caitlin is a trained teacher, who started her writing career as a human rights reporter in Botswana. She currently works as a Royal Literary Fund writing fellow at NHS Kent & Medway.

Queens of the Underworld tells of her journey into the lives of female crooks from the 17th century to today. Her upcoming book, Private Inquiries: the secret history of female sleuths, to be published in October 2023, reveals the true tales of female private eyes from the 1850s to the present. Caitlin trained as a private investigator as part of her research, but wasn’t nearly as observant as she hoped she’d be.

Social Media links:
Twitter: @CaitlinDavies2

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