Sunday, 20 May 2012

More About Books May 2012

John J Eddlestone - Murderous Derbyshire .  A fairly workmanlike non-fiction crime collection. The author and his researcher/partner Yvonne (surname unknown) drew heavily on court records in compiling this collection and it can be a little dry. It is at it`s best where a case has some ambiguities and/or some unusual and intriguing aspect that makes it out of the ordinary. Occasionally, the author does let his own personality show through and in my view the book would have been better if he`d had the confidence to do so more often. Here and there, we catch glimpses of how people in Derbyshire used to live - their housing, their occupations, their general attitudes and values. It may be that this aspect could have been explored a little further. In the end, it did win me over and for that reason I`d say it is worth a read.

J B Priestley - The Carfitt Crisis and Two Other Stories  (The Carfitt Crisis/Underground/The Pavilion of Masks) 

  `Carfitt` and `Pavilion` were originally conceived by Priestley as plays and he regarded them as "entertainments embodying some serious ideas", whilst Underground is a short horror story. A tricky collection to review, so I shall content myself with a few general observations.

The character of Engram in The Carfitt Crisis may be seen as a descendant of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls, as, arguably, is the unnamed `tall man` who appears towards the end of Undergound.  The characters of Marion and Joyce in `Carfitt` are well-observed but the dialogue of some of the younger characters is unconvincing. `Pavilion` plays host to one character`s description of a new age that he believes  is just beginning;

"An age when appearance will defeat reality, when what is said is more important than what is done, when the shadow will be accepted for substance, and more and more people will stop living their own lives to dream of living somebody else`s life". 

Sounds a bit like the present day !

 I don`t want to get into too lengthy a discussion of this collection, so I`ll close by saying that as a whole it doesn`t really work for me, but others may get more out of it.  I have reviewed other Priestley works on this blog (and no doubt will review others in the future) and it`s fair to say those were more to my taste.

Stephen Hines (compiler), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and others - The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A compilation of contemporary comment, including correspondence from the letters pages of the press of the time, on two cases of apparent wrongful conviction, cases in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle involved himself personally.

The first of these cases concerned a young solicitor named George Edalji and the second concerned a rather different character, a criminal named Oscar Slater.

For the most part Stephen Hines chooses to stay in the background, only occasionally interjecting his own observations. I can understand that, but at the same time the Edalji case generated a great deal of correspondence and in that part of the book I felt that certain exchanges could usefully have been summarized rather than being reproduced in full.

In the case of Slater, Conan Doyle`s The Case of Oscar Slater is reproduced without any additional material and I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief for that reason.

Nevertheless, this is an invaluable volume in many ways and I would recommend it.

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