Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Verdict of Twelve

Verdict of Twelve. Raymond Postgate. 1940/2017. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The Clerk of Assize had to have some way of relieving the tedium of administering the same oath year after year.

Premise/plot: Verdict of Twelve is a classic mystery originally published in 1940 in Britain. This mystery has four parts. In the first part, readers meet the twelve jurors. Backstories--some quite detailed--are given for all members of the jury. In the second part, the crime is laid out for readers. This isn't the trial itself. This is a behind-the-scenes glimpse just for readers. In the third part, I believe, the trial occurs and the jury deliberates. The fourth and final part is an epilogue revealing if the jury got it right or wrong.

A young boy dies of poisoning. His aunt stands accused of the crime. Is there enough reasonable doubt to rule her not guilty? That is the question. The defense will argue that four people equally had motive, means, and opportunity. The aunt, the two servants, the boy himself. (The aunt and two servants would inherit a good bit of money if he died. All of the people in the house had access to ivy dust from the ivy plants. All had opportunity to mix ivy dust into the salad dressing.) The defense targets the boy himself--the victim. They argue the boy was trying to murder his aunt, but wasn't smart enough, clever enough to pull it off successfully.

My thoughts: This one was a fascinating yet troubling read. There are scenes from this mystery that may haunt me for years to come. I definitely liked it and would recommend it. While the focus is closely on the twelve jurors, it is a very different type of read than Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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