‘A case study in human frailty, jealousy and desire … fascinating.’ The Times, Best Books of 2019
‘Superbly evocative and gripping.’ The Spectator
‘Sean O’Connor can’t resist striking a theatrical note in this “biography of murder”.’ Sunday Times
Adultery, alcoholism, drugs and murder on the suburban streets of Bournemouth.
The Rattenbury case of 1935 was one of the great tabloid sensations of the interwar period. The glamorous femme fatale at the heart of the story dominated the front pages for months, somewhere between the rise of Hitler and the launch of the Queen Mary.
With painstaking research and access to brand new evidence, Sean O’Connor vividly brings this epic story to life, from its beginnings in the South London slums of the 1880s and the open vistas of the British Columbian coast, to its bloody climax in a respectable English seaside resort.
The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a gripping murder story and a heartbreaking romance as well as the biography of a vital, modern woman trapped between the freedoms of two world wars and suffocated by the conformity of peacetime. A startlingly prescient parable for our times, it is the story of a woman who dared to challenge the status quo only to be crucified by public opinion, pilloried by the press and punished by the relentless machinery of the British legal system.
With a wealth of fascinating period detail, from its breathtaking opening to its shocking conclusion, The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury is a true story as enthralling, as provocative and as moving as any work of fiction.
SEAN O'CONNOR is a writer, director and producer working in theatre, radio, television and film. He has worked as showrunner on several major TV series including EastEnders, Hollyoaks, Footballers’ Wives and Minder. He produced Terence Davies’ film version of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston. He was also editor of The Archers for BBC Radio 4. For the theatre he adapted Boileau and Narcejac’s Vertigo and Winston Graham’s Marnie. His adaptation from Shakespeare, Juliet and Her Romeo, marked the re-opening of Bristol Old Vic, directed by Tom Morris, and was published by Oberon. Handsome Brute, a study of the 1940s murderer Neville Heath, and The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury were both published by Simon & Schuster. The Fatal Passion of Alma Rattenbury was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2020.