This is Mr Dickens’s compendium of murder –a dictionary of atrocious acts, dreadful deeds, and hideous horrors. Dickens asks the question:
‘Is it in the interest of any man to steal, to gamble, to waste his health and mental faculties by drunkenness, to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate revenge, or do murder? No. All these are roads to ruin. And why do men tread them? Because such inclinations are among the vicious qualities of mankind.’
Dickens might have added why do women tread them? There are plenty of murderous women in the annals of Victorian murder. Whether committed by man or woman, it does seem that real murder took hold of the imagination of Charles Dickens.
There are all kinds of murders in the novels – and murderers, including a woman. And he was always reading about murder – that is clear from the number of references to notorious cases which appear in his letters and articles for his magazines.