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On a drizzly Monday morning, 16 August 1886, the inhabitants of Timaru woke to astounding news. Tom Hall junior, a well-known local businessman and man about town, nephew of former New Zealand Premier Sir John Hall, had been arrested for attempting to murder his wife, Kitty, by poisoning. Also charged was Margaret Houston, Kitty Hall's lady-help. It was without doubt the most extraordinary thing that had ever happened in Timaru, if not the whole colony...So begins Vile Crimes, a riveting and fast-paced examination of one of New Zealand's most sensational court cases.