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True Crime Serial Killers

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream

The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer

by (author) Dean Jobb

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Jun 2021
Serial Killers, Post-Confederation (1867-), General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2021
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2021
    List Price

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The chilling true crime story of the Victorian era’s deadliest doctor

“When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most puzzling murder investigations. Incredibly, at the time the words of the world’s most famous fictional detective appeared in print in the Strand Magazine, a real-life Canadian doctor was stalking and murdering women in London’s downtrodden Lambeth neighbourhood. Dr. Thomas Neill Cream had been a suspect in the deaths of two women in Canada, and had killed as many as four people in Chicago before he arrived in London in 1891 and began using pills laced with strychnine to kill prostitutes. The Lambeth Poisoner, as he was dubbed in the press, became one of the most prolific serial killers in history.

In this fascinating book, Dean Jobb reveals how bungled investigations, corrupt officials and failed prosecutions allowed Cream to evade detection or freed him to kill, again and again. The first complete account of Dr. Cream’s crimes and his many victims explores how the stifling morality and hypocrisy of the Victorian era allowed this monster to poison vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help. It offers an inside account of Scotland Yard’s desperate search for a killer as brazen and efficient as Jack the Ripper.

About the author

Dean Jobb is an award-winning author and journalist and a professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program. He is the author of eight previous books, including Empire Of Deception, which the New York Times Book Review called “intoxicating and impressively researched” and the Chicago Writers Association named the Nonfiction Book of the Year. Jobb has written for major newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, and the Irish Times. He writes a monthly true-crime column, “Stranger Than Fiction,” for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. His work as an investigative reporter has been nominated for Canada’s National Newspaper and National Magazine awards, and Jobb is a three-time winner of Atlantic Canada’s top journalism award.

Dean Jobb's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A sweeping tale of detective work and forensic science worthy of a Sherlock Holmes story.”

<em>Quebec City Chronicle Telegraph</em>

“Follows Cream’s murderous spree and how botched investigations and corrupt officials allowed him to prey on vulnerable and desperate women.”

<em>Palm Beach Daily</em>

“A notorious murderer . . . and why it took so long to catch and convict him.”

CBC Books

“Jobb richly embellishes his grim central tale with carefully researched setting, detail, and social mores of the late Victorian era, elegantly contrasted with his eponymous fiend, Thomas Neill Cream . . . A vivid, engaging revival of a forgotten Victorian villain.”

<em>Kirkus Reviews</em>

"True crime fans will want to pick up Dean Jobb's engrossing account . . . builds Cream's world in vivid, transportative detail; I had a lot of fun being swept away."


"A must for true crime fans."


"[An] enthralling real-life thriller . . . a true crime masterpiece that will easily sit alongside The Devil in the White City."

<em>Publishers Weekly</em> <strong>(starred review)</strong>

“Dark historical non-fiction . . . sometimes the most chilling tales are the true ones.”

<em>Zoomer Magazine</em>

“Corruption, madness, murder: Dr. Cream has it all. This is a spectacular and absorbing tale, meticulously reported and vividly told. An enthralling page-turner.” 

– Jonathan Eig, author of <em>Get Capone</em>

"Jobb does a masterful job of following the investigation . . . and of presenting Dr. Cream not merely as a murderer, but as a complex, unstable, and deeply fascinating individual. True crime doesn’t get any better than this."


"Jobb marshals the facts . . . with exemplary skill and diligence; and delivers them in gripping style, in a book that will doubtless find a vast and fascinated audience, across the English speaking world."

The Scotsman

"Superb . . . a real page-turner . . . I found this true crime book as good as, or better than, many other fictional accounts of similar manhunts."

The Globe and Mail

“The story of the infamous poisoner Neill Cream is so many things – horrifying, fascinating, and insightful, a portrait of late nineteenth century police work at a time when the idea of the professional detective was just starting to take shape. And in this vivid and compelling book, Dean Jobb does full justice to that story.”

– Deborah Blum, author of the <em>New York Times</em> best-seller <em>The Poisoner's Handbook</em>

"With intense research and propulsive writing Jobb brings the era and the story together in an immersive, compelling read."

Toronto Star

An exciting whodunit . . . Jobb also does the unusual in true crime: he describes in detail the lives of Cream’s victims. The scholarship he employed to tell this story is staggering.

Winnipeg Free Press

“A tour de force of research, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream conjures an era when poisoners roamed the earth – and police seemed powerless to stop them.” 

– Margalit Fox, author of <em>Conan Doyle for the Defense</em>

“[A] fascinating true-crime story with a Canadian connection . . . an entertaining read.”

Quill & Quire

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is a macabre, utterly suspenseful true crime thriller about a forgotten madman every bit as cunning and evil as Jack the Ripper. Dean Jobb combines scholarship with a breakneck narrative so relentless it kept me up all night. Warning: Read with the lights on.”

— Abbott Kahler, <em>New York Times</em> bestselling author (as Karen Abbott) of <em>The Ghosts of Eden Park </em>

“Dean Jobb has produced another mesmerizing feat of historical storytelling. The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream vividly recreates the career of one of the most audacious – and deadly – criminals in history.”

– Gary Krist, author of <em>The Mirage Factory</em>

“Dean Jobb’s meticulous research is evident on every page of his gripping study of the extraordinary serial killer Doctor Cream, a nineteenth century ‘monster of iniquity’ whose homicidal career was truly stranger than fiction.” 

– Martin Edwards, author of <em>Mortmain Hall </em>and the Lake District Mysteries

"Vividly written . . . a splendidly atmospheric journey through the halls of Victorian vice, virtue and, above all, hypocrisy."

<em>Times</em> (UK)

“This fascinating read . . . takes readers directly into the world of the nineteenth century, an era when societal expectations and lack of sophisticated crime-solving technology could create a vicious serial killer.”


"A tour de force of storytelling . . . one of the best books I've read this year."

Louise Penny, author of the <em>New York Times</em>-bestselling Chief Inspector Gamache novels

“Deeply researched and rich in grisly detail, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream fuses the blow-by-blow efforts to catch a serial killer with the larger picture of crime and detection in the late-nineteenth century. A fine piece of social history as well as an extraordinary story.”  

– Charlotte Gray, author of <em>The Massey Murder </em>and <em>Murdered Midas</em>

“Jobb’s compelling account of Cream’s reign of terror will appeal to readers interested in Jack the Ripper or Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.”

<em>Library Journal</em>

“The definitive re-telling of a story about a devious doctor, the dogged investigators who hunted him, and the murders that shocked the world. Dr. Cream’s story comes to life in Jobb’s spell-binding tale.” 

– Kate Winkler Dawson, author of <em>American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI</em>

“A must-read . . . historically rich and shockingly poignant, Jobb’s text is not one to miss.”

True Crime Index

"Chilling and fascinating . . . takes on big ideas about the medical profession, forensics, and the tearing of the social fabric. Jobb's true crime stories are not to be missed."


“Reads like a crime novel that is both grim and hard to put down.”

Southern Bookseller Review

“[A] chilling true-crime story . . . Packed with details that will keep you up at night, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is a creepy and fascinating read."

Apple Books

“Jobb . . . creates a nuanced portrait of Cream that’s much more chilling than Mr. Hyde. Yes, Cream was a remorseless killer, but he was also warped by Victorian hypocrisy, misogyny and classism—the same factors that allowed him to hide his crimes while hunting for more victims.”


“Engrossing . . . an informative and entertaining true crime text.”


“First-rate creative non-fiction [and] very hard to put down. . . . Crime buffs are going to motor through this book.”


“Tense, atmospheric, and effortlessly readable, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream has all the sinister elegance of a hansom cab emerging from a late Victorian London smog.” 

– Paul Willetts, author of <em>King Con</em> 

"A brilliant evocation of an age and a fascinating dissection of a serial killer's crimes. Dean Jobb is a first-rate storyteller and historical detective. A real page-turner." –

– Lindsey Fitzharris, author of <em>The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine</em>

Other titles by Dean Jobb