The Thief-Taker Hangings: How Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Wild, and Jack Sheppard Captivated London and Created the Celebrity Criminal.
Lyons Press, September, 2014

“The Celebrity Criminal: Jack Sheppard and the Self-Absorption of Sin”


“The Origins of the Celebrity Criminal: As the Modern Appetite for Scandal Continues to Soar, A Quick Look Back at When It All Began”

Huffington Post 

“Jonathan Wild, a real-life ringleader of thieves in 18th-century London, might make you laugh—not from amusement but rather incredulity at his audacious exploits. His London was a lawless one as he reigned during a time when an organized police force was considered to be an expensive and repressive nuisance. Using his influence to extort, bribe, and occasionally inform on his colleagues, Wild became a successful and powerful force both in the underworld and society circles of the time. Skirboll (The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven) details numerous Hollywoodesque scrapes, chases, and escapes; further proving that truth is far stranger than fiction. The author evocatively portrays a strange and alien land whose indifferent government legislated hundreds of capital crimes, carried out endless executions, and yet was effectively lawless. Skirboll’s research led him to British archives and contemporary newspapers, unearthing a fascinating story. He immerses the reader in the period but wears his learning lightly. VERDICT Fans of both fictional and true crime stories will enjoy this fresh, well-written, and captivating page-turner full of fascinating characters engaged in a fast-moving plot.”

Library Journal

“A rollicking romp through London’s underbelly. . . . Skirboll’s rich, multilayered account reveals the birth of society’s fascination with criminals.”

Publishers Weekly

“Skirboll shows the lives and trials of Londoners from all classes. . . . Though this is not a Defoe biography, his background and career producing pamphlets and newspapers are vital. . . . His exclusive interviews of felons in Newgate and other London prisons truly changed the face of journalism. . . . The daring cleverness of both Wild and Sheppard makes for fun historical reading.”
Kirkus Reviews 

“Aaron Skirboll’s fascinating book will whisk you vividly back into history, capturing the zeal and aesthetic of the period. Equally satisfying, he delivers on the subtitle and smashes the mark. Intensely readable history like this is as hard to find as an incredibly textured story like this. Skirboll has penned an Edgar contender: He’s taken a slice of crime history and turned it into an instant classic, with a reporter’s nosy eye and a novelist’s flare for storytelling. The book is all at once compelling, engaging, skillfully crafted, but also energized by a layered subject that could have been ripped from today’s sensational headlines.”
M. William Phelps, New York Times–bestselling author of Murder, New England and The Devil’s Rooming House and star of the Investigation Discovery series Dark Minds

“The Thief-Taker Hangings is history that reads like exciting fiction. This is a compelling story, wonderfully researched, that takes you deep into the seamy London of Restoration England through the intertwined stories of thief-taker Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard, the greatest escape artist of the day, and their lowlife molls, all of them known to Daniel Defoe, who covered the scene. Skirboll captures all of this with a human touch that gives his account an added compassion worthy of John Gay and Bertold Brecht.”
Peter Rand, author of Conspiracy of One

“Aaron Skirboll skillfully weaves together the lives and times of Daniel Defoe, who invented the English novel and literary true crime journalism, and two infamous criminals whose stories he told, Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard. From coffeehouse to prison, from high life to low, The Thief-Taker Hangings brings early eighteenth-century London vividly to life.”
Peter Kobel, author of The Strange Case of the Mad Professor