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.
The Clerk of Assize had to have some way of relieving the tedium of adminstering the same oath year after year.
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)