Thomas Neill Cream, a name most of us are unfamiliar with, yet, he is one of the most infamous serial killers in England. A man who also spread terror in Illinois and Canada. He is the subject of the newest book by Dean Jobb, which is a worthy successor to his prior work “The Empire of Deception.”
This is a massively well researched book, one that takes a look at the life of this bizarre individual. He was born in Scotland but shortly thereafter his family moved to Canada. There he was brought up in the strict Presbyterian faith and was a highly religious individual. Thomas eventually goes to McGill University to study medicine and while there something must have happened to him, because after this he uses his medical knowledge to become a master poisoner. That’s right he poisons his victims by the use of strychnine. He seems to get away with it in Canada, but then goes to Illinois and eventually he is arrested for a murder in that state and convicted to life in prison. However the executor of his father’s estate is convinced that Cream is innocent and uses money from the estate to have him released early, and with that things go further downhill.
His family sends him to England and while there he goes on a murderous rampage which seemed to be directed at prostitutes, or at lower class women who are in need of an abortion. The clues are there to possibly stop this man, but Scotland Yard missed the clues and he slipped between the cracks. He is a bizarre individual and this book really documents that problem. After Cream would poison someone, he would then write notes to coroners telling them that he thinks a person has been murdered by the use of strychnine, or he would write blackmail letters to prominent individuals telling them that unless they hired him he would turn all the evidence of their wrongdoing over to Scotland Yard. But we all know that all these deaths are caused by the same individual, Thomas Neil Cream. It’s as if he had a desire to try to prove he was smarter than the police, or that he wanted to be caught. Whatever the case, this book documents the murderous career of Doctor Cream.
I am not a big fan of the true crime genre, but every now and then I do enjoy reading about the true crimes of the 19th century, and Dean Jobb is a wonderful writer who really does the research needed to bring everything to life and make you feel like you are a part of the ongoing saga. As I said this is the second of his books that I have read and it is outstanding. It’s fast moving, well written, well documented and leaves us perplexed at this individual who had the medical knowledge to do good and yet for some reason has decided to become a serial poisoner. A man who could use strychnine in many different ways to kill anyone he wished. It is not a gory book, because most of the details in the book are not about the actual crime, but rather about Cream and what I consider to be his bizarre behavior. At one point in time I was convinced that he did this for money because he had run out of any money. His father had disowned him, but the family gave him some money from the estate just to get him out of Canada! But when that will of funds ran dry, what was he going to do. Was that what led him to become the serial murderer, it may have been part of the problem, I still can’t figure out all the reasons behind Doctor Cream, but he was one of the most infamous murderers in England and for years he was memorialized in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Today he is largely forgotten, but thanks to Dean Jobb, we get to take a look into the life and career of this serial killer, a man who terrorized London for months, and who finally was brought to justice by the authorities at Scotland Yard.