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  • Ric Brady

Study the Cases: The Carriage of Horrors

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

In these blog posts, I’m taking you through the cases you'll find in Lady Justice, an Interactive Fiction series you can play on Tales. While the cases in Lady Justice are fictional, they’ve been inspired by real Victorian crimes. Read on to find out more.

One of the most gruesome cases you’ll find in Lady Justice is the ‘Carriage of Horrors’. It involves the vicious murders of three prisoners trapped inside a black maria. A police constable is also slaughtered by the assailant. It’s your task, as Verity Jade, Manchester’s first female detective, to solve this heinous crime.

Salford Quays Today.

The murder takes place at Manchester’s docks, which in real life, would have been Salford Quays on Manchester’s ship canal. The murders happen at night, and there aren’t any witnesses. You’ll have to use old-school detective methods to get to the bottom of this case, investigating blood splatter and footprints in the mud. The three prisoners in the black maria have been knifed to death, while the police officer who lays several feet away from the carriage has had his throat slit.

Think you can solve this case? Head over to Lady Justice and try and solve the Carriage of Horrors in episode 21.

While these murders in a carriage are fictional, this case was inspired by a real murder in a hansom cab. The real Detective Caminada investigated this case in 1889. A well-respected member of Manchester’s high society, John Fletcher, was found dead in a hansom cab by its driver. A young man, who had accompanied Mr Fletcher into the cab, had disappeared. It seemed that Mr Fletcher had been poisoned and robbed.

Detective Caminada was on the case, and, after donning several disguises to gather information from Manchester’s underworld, he learned that the son of a local boxer could be a suspect. The poison used to kill Mr Fletcher, chloral hydrate, was widely known to be used by boxers to drug their opponents.

After further investigation, Caminada arrested the boxer’s son on suspicion of theft, and witnesses placed the eighteen-year-old at the murder scene. Denying the charges of theft and murder, the young man claimed he was in Liverpool on the day of Mr Fletcher’s murder. Caminada didn’t believe him and learned that a bottle of chloral hydrate had been stolen from a chemist in Liverpool a few days before the murder. The Liverpudlian chemist confirmed that the boxer’s son was the boy who stole the bottle.

With this evidence, and plenty more, Caminada charged the young man with Mr. Fletcher’s murder. He also linked him to several other thefts in Manchester, where men who crossed the young man in pubs woke up the following morning with empty pockets in back alleys.

While the fictional case you’ll investigate in Lady Justice is more violent than the one the real Detective Caminada solved, one thing is for certain, in Victorian Manchester, carriages were dangerous places to be in.

Play Lady Justice on Tales and explore the Victorian Manchester. If you want more details on my historical crime fiction, sign up to my monthly newsletter and instantly receive an exclusive Lady Justice Game Manual for free!

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