LONDONS UNDERWORLD by Fergus Linnane
'London's Underworld' is the superbly evocative survey of 300 years of organised crime in the capital. Full of vivid detail and characters, it is an examination of the underside of the world's richest city as it evolved from the extreme violence of the early eighteenth century to the vastly more complex and lucrative, but no less violent, gangland of today. Fergus Linnane takes us on the nightmarish last journeys of condemned criminals to execution. We follow the ingenious criminals who carried out the first great train robbery in 1854 and the gang that robbed the Bank of England. We enter death-trap eighteenth century prisons, described as a 'prototype of hell'. We walk the crowded streets of Victorian London with its swarms of prostitutes, its magsmen and garrotters. We enter low drinking dens where prostitutes and their murderous accomplices practise their arts. We see the rise and fall of the interwar racecourse gangs and the battle for control of the West End, which bequeathed us much of the structure of present-day gangland. This story has the power to disturb and even disgust, but it is endlessly fascinating.