At times the lengthy explanations of small-print insurance policies ask for much patience in the reader, but Eloise Moss skilfully balances enquiries and explanations with a fascinating central narrative. There are abundant illustrations, many from obscure sources, and the reader finishes this book convinced that isolating one criminal offence for close study is a refreshing and worthwhile approach to the history of crime and law.
There is an almost indelible association, practical, of course, but cultural, too, between burglary and the night. Hence the title of Eloise Moss’s detailed, richly informative account of burglary in the British capital between the 1860s and the Sixties – Night Raiders. She takes the phrase from Benjamin P Eldridge, an American criminologist who, in 1897, attempted to capture a sense of the sort of person who, as she puts it, “would clamber through your windows dressed in black wearing a mask, silently steal your jewels, and then melt away again into the shadowy nocturnal world outside.”... It a pity, then, that she strains so hard to make material that is inherently readable – and that might be even more so, if there were fewer superfluous footnotes – more racy.