A TRUE crime tale of murder, unrequited love and chocolate has been re-evaluated in new book published this week by a Saxonfields-based author.

The Case of the Chocolate Cream Killer is the fourth book by historian Kaye Jones about one of the country’s most prolific female poisoners of the Victorian era.

In the summer of 1871, Brighton came to the attention of the national newspapers with reports of a serial poisoner after anonymous parcels of strychnine-laced chocolates were sent to the some of the town’s most high-profile people.

The perpetrator was a welleducated and highly respected member of Brighton society, dubbed the Chocolate Cream Killer.

“The book is about Christiana Edmunds who was one of the most notorious poisoners of the 19th century,” said Kaye describing the case. “She fell in love with a man called Dr Charles Beard, but unfortunately he was married.”

“She bought some chocolates and injected them with strychnine and tried to kill his wife but failed. Charles realised what she had tried to do and said he did not want anything to do with her anymore.

“To vindicate herself she devised a rouse to set up John Maynard, a local confectioner.”

Christiana, the daughter of a renowned architect in Brighton, was born in Margate in 1828.

After being educated in Ramsgate she moved to Canterbury in 1847 then Brighton in 1867, where she carried out her catalogue of crimes.

In setting up John Maynard she bought batches of Maynard’s Chocolate Creams and distributed them to people across the town including the borough magistrate, the wife of a local lawyer and Mrs Beard.

To avoid suspicion, she also sent herself chocolates and told the police she had been poisoned.

Kaye, 29, added: “She definitely killed a four-year-old boy called Sidney Barker who was on holiday with his parents. That is her only fatality but she did poison dozens of others between April and August, 1871”.

Christiana was tried and found guilty at the Old Bailey in 1872 before being sent to Broadmoor – avoiding the death penalty on mental health grounds – where she died 35 years later in 1907.

“The book started out as a account of one of the most sensational crimes of the 19th century but the more I dug into Christiana’s background, the more I became interested in her family history,” said the mother-of-one.

Christiana’s story has inspired Kaye’s next book about occupational poisonings including the real-life “mad hatters” and the flower girls of Covent Garden.

Kaye studied history at the University of Manchester and her dissertation about Victorian murderesses was published shortly after. She has written three books for the History in an Hour series before working with Pen & Sword on this publication.

The book is priced at £12.99.

Visit kayejoneswriter.com