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Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate
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Verdict of Twelve (1940)

by Raymond Postgate

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate is a courtroom crime classic that was originally published in 1940 and now has been re-issued as a British Library Crime Classic. I have a confession to make in that I don’t usually like courtroom drama but I have to say, this book kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.

In the beginning we are introduced to the varied members of the jury and given a short history about each of them. This personality sketch comes in handy when the jury is in deliberation and each juror’s personality plays a part in whether or not they think the defendant is guilty. The mystery itself is intriguing and I was interested to see how this would play out as there really was a significant doubt as to what actually happened.

This is a story of human behavior and the nature of justice. It is rather frightening how much of this jury’s opinion was formed by the appearance of the defendant and the various witnesses. Their own position in society seems to determine whether or not they would vote guilty. Verdict of Twelve is original, clever and I thoroughly enjoyed this read. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 18, 2017 |
An interesting approach to a mystery; the authors gives us a sketch of each juror, then the course of the murder, followed by the trial, and finally a disingenuous 'confession' of sorts. An old book, but worth reading for fans of the development of the genre.
  ritaer | Nov 21, 2017 |
This book was sent to me by the publisher Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley. Thank you.

This mystery is the classic story of how a jury views the evidence presented in a murder trial that is not cut-and dried. Rosalie van Beer is being tried for the poisoning of her eleven-year-old nephew Philip. The poison hererin was very exotic, although readily available in the form of ivy pollen from the overgrown vines in the back garden. Did she kill the young boy she hated? After all, she was no blood kin, having been married to his uncle for only four months before her husband was killed in WWI. She stood to inherit a nice amount of cash. Maybe it was the cook and her caretaker husband who also would inherit a tidy sum for retirement. Maybe it was a tragic accident helped by the senile doctor who did not recognize the symptoms and gave the wrong diagnosis. Or it could even be suicide. A very unhappy child had lost his parents in a plane crash and then his grandfather from a massive heart attack on the same day. He was withdrawn from his beloved school and lived in the household of a woman he hated because she gassed his pet rabbit claiming it was “dirty.” He was a clever lad, according to his tutor, well able to read up on poisons.

The chosen jury consists of a woman who got away with murder (not really a spoiler since it is revealed in the first chapter) and understands how simple it is to commit a crime. Included are a young woman who mistrusts the justice system because her husband was killed in a vicious attack and nothing much was done about it; a religious fanatic; a pompous classics professor who only accepts documentary evidence; a publican who had issues with the police. They, with the remaining jurors, hold Rosalie van Beer’s fate in their hands. Would they be right or wrong? The final section lets the reader know what actually happened.

This is a fantastic novel that has stood the time test since being published in 1940. The reader may become a bit cynical about how justice is really being served after reading Verdict of Twelve. ( )
1 vote Liz1564 | Oct 1, 2017 |
This is a clever murder mystery novel presented in a unique way. It is best not to read the ending before you read the rest of the book. There is a satisfying conclusion to the story despite some moral ambiguity about the result. This provides plenty for food for thought after you finish the book.

There are four parts to the book. The first one is devoted to introducing each of the jurors who will ultimately decide the fate of the yet to be determined accused. They are a mixed bag of humanity; one of them is a murderer who “got away” with it the crime. The second part is the crime story during which readers find out who is killed and who is accused. It’s death by poison and there’s several potential accused persons, but it comes as no real surprise when the identity of the accused is revealed. The third part covers the trial and the presentation of evidence against the accused. One of the defenses raised is that there has been no crime: the victim committed suicide! When you come to the jury deliberations, your reader’s memory of the first part is tested: can you remember who is who, and what are their foibles? The author kindly includes some prompts to help with that. Lastly, after the verdict, is the “reveal”: when the reader finds out what really happened.

It’s a fascinating well-plotted read that requires close attention to the narrative. There’s actually two stories: the crime story and the jury trial one.

The Introduction by Martin Edwards is a welcome addition (as it is in other British Library Crime Classics), and puts the author and this book in context with respect to the Golden Age.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy to review. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Sep 21, 2017 |
This was a very enjoyable story about the court case for a murder. It introduces the reader to the jurors and shares their peculiarities and oddities. We hear the evidence and are given more background than the jurors would learn from the witnesses and the barristers. We are then brought into the jury room for final deliberations.

This book demonstrates the weaknesses of trial by jury and demonstrates how difficult it would be for twelve individuals to focus purely on the evidence of any case give their varied backgrounds and inherent prejudices. Postgate tells this story while maintaining a degree of humour and manages to keep the reader’s attention to the end. ( )
1 vote pgmcc | Mar 23, 2017 |
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Edwards, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I swear by almighty God that I will well and truly try and true deliverance make between our sovereign lord the King and the prisoner at the bar whom I shall have in charge and a true verdict give according to the evidence.

Jurors' oath in a trial for murder
It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but on the contrary their social existence determines their consciousness.

K. Marx
Dedication
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The Clerk of Assize had to have some way of relieving the tedium of adminstering the same oath year after year.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve men and women of the jury must weight the evidence and decide on her innocence or guilt. But they, too, are in a sense on trial, for each has his or her own burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. Consequently, Verdict of Twelve is a fascinating case study of the human mind as well as a gripping story. Hailed as one of the best mysteries of the year when it was first published in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has become a classic of its genre.

The technique used in the book is typical of Postgate's approach to the detective novel. He gives detailed biographies of six of the 12 jurors who must decide whether a middle-aged woman has murdered her nephew. Each juror brings to his task a set of personal attitudes and problems which prevent his considering the evidence objectively — each responds emotionally rather than rationally to the crime. Because the reader understands the jurors, he is able to anticipate their reactions. Postgate's real skill, however, lies in his ability to show how these seemingly predictable reactions are modified or changed once discussion of the case begins, and subtle interplay of class distinctions and personality gradually causes the weaker jurors to side with the majority. The jury deliberations form the core of the novel, but they are buttressed by careful delineation of both accused and victim. Postgate also makes superb use of literary allusion and offers as neatly handled a twist ending as one could wish for.

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CLASSIC CRIME. A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors' decision be the correct one? Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.… (more)

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