Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Notable British Trials is Back!

More than sixty years have passed since the last entry appeared in the renowned series of Notable British Trials, published by William Hodge and Co. Now, I'm pleased to have had the chance to read a brand new entry in the series - number 84, no less. It's the Trial of Israel Lipski, edited by true crime writer M.W. Oldridge, and published by Mango Books under licence from William Hodge.

Pleasingly, this volume includes a lengthy foreword which provides a history of how Notable British Trials came into being. It's a fascinating story, and some of Oldridge's predecessors were legends of true crime writing - the likes of William Roughead and Frin Tennyson Jesse. Classic cases covered include those of Adelaide Bartlett, Florence Maybrick, Alfred Monson, and Buck Ruxton,

The famous trials are interesting in themselves. They also provide a vast amount of information for writers, not just true crime writers, but also novelists. When I was working on Dancing for the Hangman, I studied Filson Young's book about the trial of Dr Crippen very carefully. I was trying to write a novel which respected the facts that were known (while using fictional skills to explain the apparently inexplicable parts of the story), and the trial transcript gave me a great deal of help.

In line with the tradition of these books, Oldridge contributes a detailed introduction which sets the case in context. Lipski's murder of Miram Angel in 1887 attracted a good deal of attention at at the time, and the case does have intriguing features, although I find it less mysterious than, say the Bartlett or Maybrick cases. There are illustrations, and all in all I think Mango have done true crime fans a real service in bringing this famous publishing brand back to life.

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