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Death in a Hansom Cab


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Writer Kerry Segrave explores the corrupting influence of the media on a falsely accused woman in a 1904 murder trial.

In 1904 Nan Patterson became one of the most hated women in New York City for a crime she likely didn’t commit. On June 4, 1904, Caesar Young -Patterson’s lover- was shot while the two rode through New York in a hansom cab. As Young was planning to leave New York for Europe with his wife the same day, and to leave Nan forever, all eyes were immediately upon the young woman unlucky enough to be in the cab with her lover.

In the new book Death in a Hansom Cab, writer Kerry Sergrave explores the actual court trial and the unofficial trial Nan Patterson suffered in the media.  Nan Patterson was a 21 year-old actress known just barely for an off-shoot play of a popular name. As a divorcee who was in a relationship with a married man, Sergrave posits that Patterson was at a severe disadvantage from the start of her trial, even with no real evidence of her guilt. Though Young’s past was checkered at best, all guilt and blame was immediately placed on Patterson’s shoulders. 

Death in a Hansom Cab explores the newspaper editorials, actual facts of the case, as well as the real story of Nan Patterson and her life. It focuses on showing how media slander impacted the murder trial, including supposed eye-witnesses who had many differing stories. It seems clear from page one how Segrave feels about the trial, and after reading through the many ways Patterson was slandered in the press and accused of almost everything under the sun, it is difficult not to feel the same way. 

Segrave’s writing is highly impassioned as she points out injustice after injustice, such as bail amounts that changed frequently, stories in the press that painted Nan Patterson as a femme fatale, and false information seemingly pulled from no where and published in the local papers and then repeated nationally. For readers who are fascinated with true crime and how people are often tried in the media before having a chance at a day in court, Death in a Hansom Cab is an excellent read.

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About the author

Cultural historian Kerry Segrave is the author of dozens of books on such diverse topics as drive-in theaters, lie detectors, jukeboxes, smoking, shoplifting and ticket-scalping. He lives in British Columbia. view profile

Published on April 24, 2020

Published by

70000 words

Genre: True Crime

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