One evening in April 1866 a couple out walking stumbled over a bundle lying on a footpath up on Carr's Hill, a rocky outcrop on Gateshead Fell, near Newcastle.
It was the body of a little girl and she had been raped and strangled. Who was the victim and what were the circumstances that put her in the path of a sexual predator?
From the disturbing post-mortem and inquest, through the efforts of the police to follow contemporary forensic procedure, to the revelation of the perpetrator and all that followed by way of legal process and lives ruined, this is a gripping piece of detective work.
Drawing on newly uncovered primary sources, the book evokes a haunting, liminal place, where the land itself constantly shifted, thanks to heavy quarrying. Anyone with privileged knowledge of it gained a disturbing advantage over those who might lose their way.
What was behind the alarming string of fires set around Newcastle in the autumn of 1865 and why did a judge describe the area as 'one of the most wicked counties in the country'?