Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Return of Notable British Trials

Regular readers of this blog will know of my enthusiasm for true crime cases, and books about them. It's this interest that fuelled my novel Dancing for the Hangman, my non-fiction book Urge to Kill, and my CWA anthology Truly Criminal. And I've enjoyed many fascinating conversations with criminologists - only the other day I had a very pleasant lunch with someone who did ground-breaking research on the legendary Wallace case, and who turns out to live just a few miles away.

Given all that, I was naturally delighted to learn from Kate Clarke that the Notable British Trials series of books is to enjoy a new lease of life, after a hiatus lasting more than half a century. This is, I imagine, another spin-off of changes within the publishing industry, and the economics of publishing, and very welcome it is. The new publishers, taking a licence from the rights owners, are Mango Books, evidently a young and forward- looking company.

Adam Wood, who runs Mango, told me: "One of the intriguing parts of identifying cases which should be added to the NBT series is whether a transcript of the trial is available. We prepared a list of cases which were obvious omissions in the original series, but on further investigation realised that none existed in the obvious places and that's probably why William Hodge didn't include them. Thankfully, with the British Newspaper Archives now available online, we are able to access contemporary newspaper reports of trials, many of which are very detailed. This means we're able to piece together a trial without a formal transcript, or at least a complete one. It's been a lot of fun walking in the footsteps of the likes of William Roughead and W. Teignmouth Shore."

The first title in the series will be The Trial of Israel Lipski, to be edited by experienced true crime writer M.W. Oldridge. Two more forthcoming titles will feature a pair of railway-related mysteries - more "blood on the tracks"! I've read a number of the original books in the series, and found them very helpful with a range of projects, as well as fascinating in their own right. So I'm certainly awaiting the publication of the new titles with eager anticipation. 

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