Indictment for Murder

Peter Rawlinson, Author
Peter Rawlinson, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-25325-7
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-7602-6
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The trial of a 77-year-old retired judge for murdering a 78-year-old family friend who was a war hero forms the unlikely basis for this stirring psychological study set in England. Jonathan Playfair, Knight of the Realm and onetime Judge of the High Court, is accused of murdering David Trelawney, at whose side he long ago fought against the Germans in North Africa. The case appears straightforward: during a visit to Trelawney, who was bed-bound from a broken ankle and prostate cancer, Playfair was left alone with his old friend while the attendant nurse exited the room. When she returned, she found Trelawney dead, Playfair absent and physical and circumstantial evidence suggesting that Playfair had committed murder. While Rawlinson milks the ensuing trial for plenty of drama and suspense, with some deft surprises for punctuation, it is the psychological history of Trelawney and Playfair's relationship that above all rivets the attention. The bit players, from the troubled trial judge to the inexperienced prosecutor to the high-powered defense counsel, are extremely well drawn and serve admirably to highlight this study of cunning, survival and malevolence hidden by a facade of respectability. Rawlinson (The Caverel Claim, etc.), who was a British MP for 23 years, has demonstrated yet again that the internal struggles of individuals provide the greatest drama and the most intense theater of combat of all. (Feb.)
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