Who Killed Little Johnny Gill? by Kathryn McMaster

Who Killed Little Johnny Gill? A Victorian True Crime Murder Mystery by Kathryn McMaster

My Review and Thoughts:

This is a thought provoking mystery and yet not. The book explores this tragic case of true crime. An 8-year-old boy brutally murdered and mutilated beyond words. The story takes place in the year 1888. It’s a thick mystery sadly still unsolved. Johnny Gill never got the justice he deserved. Gill’s mother and father and siblings never got the justice they deserved. It’s obvious who did it. The book showcases that, but no true criminal conviction ever took place, even though they tried. The trail was a sham and the people who had a cheering mentality to favor the one that basically did the crime is an asinine horror. Johnny Gill should have had his justice. His killer should have gone to jail, but because there was no conviction, the crime was never solved, and so the mystery has remained with this brutal case.

Kathryn McMaster takes on this tragic case and horrible brutal murder of a child and a justice system that horribly failed Johnny Gill and his parents. McMaster tells a rich story of character development and a graphic sense of surroundings. She can transport you back to 1888 Manningham Lane in Bradford England. You can sense the tension and persona of characters and the surroundings of the crime. During this time of Johnny Gill’s tragic murder, Jack the Ripper was killing, and the tension and haunting reality of these murder cases, hung over the whole of England.

That is also one of the mystery aspects of Johnny Gill’s case. Did Jack the Ripper kill 
Johnny Gill and not the one that was suspected. Letter’s where received supposedly by Jack the Ripper claiming he killed the boy, and so that also brought huge doubts, on who was the killer. McMaster in the Afterword of the book explains her beliefs, and ideas on the subject, and explains in logical, and very believable understandings of who she thinks did it, and how. I agree hundred percent with what McMaster says. It’s logical, and basically the most rational reality of this case. I still can’t fathom why the person was not convicted, it’s so obvious, and totally stupid of the court, and people that did not convict. The mob mentality of cheering this cold-blooded killer is dumbfounding on how stupid they must have been.

But because there was no conviction the mystery remains, and the tragic horror of Johnny Gill’s mutilated 8-year-old body remains a vibrant unsolved ordeal. This is 250 pages of a well-crafted story of Victorian true crime that I feel, any person that likes a good mystery, and true crime will take to this and question just what the truth is. It’s so amazing to see, how this unfolds.

I am a huge reader and researcher of Jack the Ripper. Like I have stated some believe that Johnny Gill was a victim of Jack the Ripper, and because there was no solved justice, maybe Gill was a victim of Jack the Ripper, sadly we will never know. It just adds more mystery to the story. Also, there is a secret Club, a sect, a cult that met in the area that added one more mystery, where some believe Johnny Gill was a sacrifice, by this secret club.

Johnny Gill had his throat cut, his stomach was cut open. He was stabbed twice in the chest, his arms and legs had been cut off, and his ears removed. His penis cut off. His anus cut out. He was drained of blood. So, you tell me what that sounds like.

So, you Chose:

1. Accident and Unplanned and to cover it up the killer used brutality.
2. Sexual Rape and then murder to shut the boy up.
3. A Sacrifice.
4. Jack the Ripper Victim

Would I Return to it Again: No, one time was enough? If I was to write about London in the Jack the Ripper era, I would return to this, and explore it once again.

Would I Recommend: Absolutely. I think any true crime lover, true mystery buff, will take to this. Also, great for any Ripperologist wanting to seek out information outside the basic plot of Jack.


Four Words: Mysterious. Tragic. Emotional. Well-researched.