A Pilgrim's Progress and other novel adventures

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Bigamy, theft and murder - ‘the Rainhill Murderer’




I’m just getting into my stride on ‘Beasts to the Slaughter’ (the working title for my second Pilgrim novel) and I’ve been casting around for inspiration for the antagonists.  To my surprise I found a generous dollop just a few streets away from where my husband grew up in Rainhill, Merseyside.  Frederick Bailey Deeming murdered his first wife and his four children in Dinham Villa in Rainhill. and buried them all under the hearth.  Shortly afterwards he killed his second wife Emily in Windsor.  The murders were only discovered after Deeming was arrested for another murder in Australia. Police in London considered him a key suspect for Jack the Ripper.

Deeming’s smooth manners and good looks made him a hit with the ladies, but he was as bloody a psychopath as any crime writer could invent.  I’ve decided to base one of Pilgrim’s adversaries in the novel – Frederick Arthur Denning – on him. No need for a spoiler-alert on this one – Pilgrim’s pretty certain that Denning is up to no good right from the start.

‘Frederick Arthur Denning rented a terraced house in Webb Street, South of the river, with his new wife Dorothy and her younger sister Helen Whitaker.  The house was narrow and grubby, with plaid curtains and a dirty doorstep.  Denning owned a Boston Terrier called Flit, preferred tea to coffee, worked as a gas-fitting salesman, and rarely took strong drink in public.  Pilgrim knew all of these things within half an hour of arriving in Webb Street, thanks to some careful questions in the nearest butcher, coffee shop and tavern.’

Will Pilgrim get his man?

There’s a great Australian website all about Deeming’s misdemeanours here

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