"Last night considerable excitement was caused in Coventry by the report that a number of persons had been shot and seriously wounded by a man who was going about the town with a revolver."

The horrific actions of watchmaker Oliver Style on the evening of Thursday, 27th May 1880 are now long forgotten. But at the time the case was national - and international - news, and barely left the pages of local newspapers for six months.

He had walked into the Old Half Moon tavern on Coventry's Spon End and shot two customers and the landlady without saying a word, then just as suddenly left and made his way to Much Park Street, where he shot his wife, their infant son and his mother in law.

Think of Coventry's famous watchmaking industry, and the image which comes to mind is of a genial, skilled craftsman, hunched over a workstation, carrying out his work with infinite care to support his loving family. But scratch beneath the surface and tales of drunkeness, domestic abuse and infidelity are rife.

This book examines the long-forgotten case of Oliver Style and the harrowing aftermath of his actions, and reveals the real lives of the Coventry watchmaking community.

£10.00 Paperback.
Illustrated / bibliography / index.



Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the remote far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867 at the age of 19 and initially working as a City clerk.

The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. 35 years later he retired as Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department, the top detective in the country.

Set against the backdrop of the developing Metropolitan Police, this book tells the story of a life and career which included railway murderers, grave robbers, fraudulent mediums, Jack the Ripper, the Philosopher’s Stone, Fenian dynamite campaigns, shocking revelations about the aristocracy and a crazed captain with sea serpents in a bottle.

Linking it all together is Donald Swanson, whose application letter to the Metropolitan Police spoke of a desire for “a good opening”. After reading his story, the reader will be left in little doubt that he made the most of the opportunities which came his way.

* 790-page
* Hardback, paperback and Kindle
* Foreword by Paul Begg, with a Preface by Nevill Swanson
* More than 100 illustrations
* Over 1,800 Notes and references
* Bibliography
* Index



An edited extract from Adam Wood's full biography, Swanson: The Life and Times of A Victorian Detective.


This 162-page softcover book features a detailed account of the Whitechapel murders of 1888, a history of Swanson's handwritten notes discovered 50 years after his death which name the chief suspect and what happened to him, and an examination by the author into the events described in Swanson's marginalia.

Donald Sutherland Swanson was born in the far north of Scotland, leaving for London in 1867. The following year he joined the Metropolitan Police and began patrolling the streets of the capital as a uniformed constable. When he retired 35 years later, in 1903, he had risen to the rank of  Superintendent of the CID at Scotland Yard, the top detective in the country.

On 15th September 1888 Swanson was hand-picked by Commissioner Sir Charles Warren to lead the investigation into the Whitechapel murders by the so-called Jack the Ripper, as a result learning more about the case than any other officer as he read every report, statement, letter and telegram.

Although the mystery was never officially solved, more than 50 years after Donald Swanson’s death his grandson discovered private handwritten notes which seemed to finally explain what happened to the murderer – and to name him at last.



The gruesome double murder of Richard and Mary Phillips in Coventry’s Stoke Park estate seemed a perfect mystery.

The bloodied bodies of the elderly couple were found in their bedroom, with the previous days’ newspapers piled up on the doormat.

A calendar on their mantlepiece had not been changed for two days, capturing the date of the attack – Wednesday, 10th January 1906.

The only clue for Coventry’s City Police was the discovery of a crudely-painted bicycle lamp, its side lights covered over, which the murderer had seemingly used as a lantern.


Could Detective Inspector Imber solve the riddle?


This book examines the events leading up to the fatal night, and why, despite the owner of the lamp being charged with the murders and standing trial at Warwick Assizes, the case is officially classed as ‘Unsolved’.

£10.00 Paperback.
Illustrated / bibliography / index.