Friday, 9 April 2010

Forgotten Book - Verdict of 13

The first Detection Club book that I ever read, about 30 years ago, was Verdict of 13, which appeared in a Penguin paperback edition not long after its initial publication in 1979. I was attracted very much by the distinguished list of authors, who all contributed new stories, but of course I had no idea at the time that I would ever have any personal connection with the Club.

The then President of the Club, Julian Symons, decided to put together a collection which, he said in his introduction, was meant to have ‘a distinctive approach. The contributors were asked to write a short story that should, in some way or another, concern a jury, although it was stressed that the jury need not be one sitting in a law court, nor need they number twelve. The might be a ‘jury’ of soldiers or policemen, suburban housewives or schoolboys, lawyers or old lags.’ The book as a whole, he said, ‘shows the crime story, like the Detection Club, offering talents as various as those of Cleopatra.’

A pretty good connecting theme, I think. Certainly, I enjoyed the book, and if I had to pick a favourite story, it might be the one by P.D. James. Here is a list of all the contributions:

Patricia Highsmith – Something the Cat Dragged In

H.R.F. Keating – Gup

Christianna Brand – Cloud Nine

Dick Francis – Twenty-One Good Men and True

Gwendoline Butler – The Rogue’s Twist

P.D. James – Great-Aunt Allie’s Fly-papers

Michael Innes – Pelly and Cullis

Celia Fremlin – Postgraduate Thesis

Michael Gilbert – Verdict of Three

Ngaio Marsh – Morepork

Michael Underwood – Murder at St Oswald’s

Peter Dickinson – Who Killed the Cat?

Julian Symons – Waiting for Mr McGregor


Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing this book. Those stories really do sound terrific, and what a list of contributors! I appreciate your letting us know about this find : ).

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Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a great group of authors~! No surprise that James might have been your favorite of the group. :) She's such an amazing writer.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Ann Elle Altman said...

I agree with Margot, the story sounds wonderful.

Last night I watched Jonathan Creek's The Judas Tree. Great plot. Love how it was done.


Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments.
Ann, I'm glad you liked the Creek episode!