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Unlawful Occasions

by Henry Cecil

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271648,776 (3)2
Mrs. Vernay and her husband live in a flat above the Chambers of Brian Culsworth Q.C. in the Temple. One day Mrs. Vernay receives a visit from a Mr. Sampson and she gets the impression that he is a blackmailer. She then immediately seeks advice from Mr. Culsworth in his chambers below. Mr. Culsworth's client, a Mr. Baker is bringing an action to recover his share on a win on the pools. The story of these people becomes inextricably linked in a brilliant novel of suspense and humour.… (more)

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I've been reading Henry Cecil for ages. He was a barrister and judge, and his books are delightfully humorous accounts of activities in the law courts and lawyers' and judges' chambers. Every so often, I come across one of his works that I haven't read before. Unlawful Occasions is one of those.

Brian Culsworth, barrister-at-law, is sought out for advice one day by the tenant above his chambers, one Mrs. Venery. She has had a visit from a man who appears to be a blackmailer. I say "appears" because he is quite clever at avoiding a direct threat, but merely insinuates. At the same time, Culsworth is representing a man who is suing for his share of a win in the pools (lottery to us Yanks!). His client's habit of speaking his mind directly gets him in trouble in court, and Culsworth's efforts to get him out of it may expose him to the tender mercies of the blackmailer.

As with all Cecil's work, there's a twist or two, and the story is told with a dry wit that goes well with a gin and tonic.
  lilithcat | Sep 24, 2009 |
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