Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard

A delectable true-crime story of scandal and murder at America’s most celebrated university.On November 23rd of 1849, in the heart of Boston, one of the city’s richest men simply vanished. Dr. George Parkman, a Brahmin who owned much of Boston’s West End, was last seen that afternoon visiting his alma mater, Harvard Medical School. Police scoured city tenements and the har...

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Title:Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard
Author:Paul Collins
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Blood & Ivy: The 1849 Murder That Scandalized Harvard Reviews

  • nikkia neil

    Thanks W. W. Norton & Company for this ARC. All opinions are my own.

    This biography has so many echos into the present. You'll be outraged, engaged, and glued to your seat. Collins is a master at his craft.

  • Paul

    Blood & Ivy is another smart true crime book from Paul Collins. A slew of new types of evidence for the time and this great subject matter (a case that inspired Dickens!) will engage his existing fans and should bring a legion of new readers.

    Many thanks to NetGalley, W. W. Norton & Company, and Mr. Collins for the advanced copy for review.

    Full review can be found here:

    Please check out all my reviews:

  • Thebooktrail

    A real life crime of the century brought to grisly exquisite life!

    Take your reading scalpel to this one and get dissecting!

  • Emily

    True crime is not my usual genre, in fact, I think Devil in the White City is the only other true crime book I’ve read. For fans of that book, I recommend you give Collins a try.

    Blood and Ivy has that interesting narrative style of a lot of modern history books like Devil in the White City. Collins has an extensive list of references—over 60 pages of notes and sources at the end of the book—and judging by his acknowledgments, it took him a lot of time to pull it all together into something read

    True crime is not my usual genre, in fact, I think Devil in the White City is the only other true crime book I’ve read. For fans of that book, I recommend you give Collins a try.

    Blood and Ivy has that interesting narrative style of a lot of modern history books like Devil in the White City. Collins has an extensive list of references—over 60 pages of notes and sources at the end of the book—and judging by his acknowledgments, it took him a lot of time to pull it all together into something readable.

    Besides the grisly details and unraveling of the murder, the history of Boston, Cambridge, and specifically Harvard around 1849 was interesting to me. I was surprised by how many famous authors were connected to this case, either because they were faculty at Harvard, they knew Webster, or simply because they were alive during the trial and its aftermath. The Epilogue notes that the case was inspiration for Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which I didn’t know.

    The legal precedents that came out of this case were fascinating too, particularly what became known as the “Webster charge,” based on the judge’s definition of reasonable doubt for the jury. It endured over 100 years after the trial, and Massachusetts didn’t decide to modernize it until 2015.

    The history is by turns sad, perplexing, and disturbing. Collins did a nice job incorporating historical detail into his linear narrative of the investigation and trial. It was truly worth the read, and I’m interested in checking out his other work.

  • Graeme Roberts

    An elegant, beautifully structured tale from real life. Fascinating characters, just the right amount of detail, and a crystal-clear evocation of life in the Boston of 1849. I could smell it.

    is a modern master.

  • Steve

    Disclaimer: I received this book from GoodReads' First Reads program.

    Blood & Ivy is the story of a horrible murder that happened in mid-19th century Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Parkman was making his rounds, collecting payments on debts owed him when he disappeared. A massive search and posted rewards turns up a whole lot of nothing. A janitor who works for one of the professors at Harvard notices something is wrong - one of the walls in the professor's lab is exceptionally hot. Worrying t

    Disclaimer: I received this book from GoodReads' First Reads program.

    Blood & Ivy is the story of a horrible murder that happened in mid-19th century Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Parkman was making his rounds, collecting payments on debts owed him when he disappeared. A massive search and posted rewards turns up a whole lot of nothing. A janitor who works for one of the professors at Harvard notices something is wrong - one of the walls in the professor's lab is exceptionally hot. Worrying that a fire is in the next room, he investigates further. He finds nothing at first, but becomes suspicious, and while the professor is away, he breaks into the one area that hadn't been search - the privy. He manages to break through the wall into the privy and finds human remains. The police are notified, finding a torso and leg, and teeth and bones in the furnace. This leads to the arrest and eventual conviction of the janitor's employer, Dr. Webster. The trial becomes a huge sensation, with the professor claiming his innocence the whole time, and trying to pin the murder on the janitor. The jury doesn't buy it, and he is convicted and sentenced to death. In the end, he confesses to his crime and meets his maker. A very interesting true crime story, which I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

  • Cindy H.

    Thank you to NetGalley and WW Norton Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of Blood & Ivy by Paul Collins. In exchange I offer my unbiased review.

    I absolutely loved this true crime account. Collins skillfully and artistically draws the reader into the mid 19th century and the exclusive halls of Harvard University. In 1849 Dr. George Parkman, a Harvard graduate and benefactor of the esteemed university left his home to run some errands and never returned. Foul play was quickly suspected and

    Thank you to NetGalley and WW Norton Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of Blood & Ivy by Paul Collins. In exchange I offer my unbiased review.

    I absolutely loved this true crime account. Collins skillfully and artistically draws the reader into the mid 19th century and the exclusive halls of Harvard University. In 1849 Dr. George Parkman, a Harvard graduate and benefactor of the esteemed university left his home to run some errands and never returned. Foul play was quickly suspected and within a week the culprit arrested. The book goes about describing the victim, the accused, the trial and the aftermath. I was riveted from page one and completely mesmerized by the startling conclusion.

    Paul Collins extensive research was evident as this nonfiction account read like fiction with all the astonishing details, newspaper headlines, letters and journals.Appearances from Harvard alumni, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow really added to the drama and mystery. Evocative and exhilarating this is a must read for all true crime fans and history buffs!

  • Amanda

    Paul Collins sets you squarely in the insular 1840s Harvard, and pages fly by as you're drawn in to the story of how a murder rocked this staid society. I picked up this book having some familiarity with the case, but the whole thing turned out to be so much more than I knew! Recommended for true crime, Harvard/Boston history, or legal history enthusiasts.

    I received a digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley.

  • Paulcbry

    The book starts out focusing on cadavers but soon turns into a first rate murder mystery. The trial subsequent to the crime offers up the first clarification of the term 'reasonable doubt'. This is a terrific read from a terrific author. I look forward to more writings from him.

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