Tragedy at Law was originally published in 1942 and P.D. James states that it is
This book was written during the golden age of crime and it’s Englishness just oozes out of the pages. I was laughing out loud at certain passages, as the society described in this book just doesn’t exist any more. The characters are so posh! There was one section in the book where someone tries to poison the judge with a chocolate which has been cut in half, poison added to the centre and then resealed. It was thought to be a terribly planned crime, and soon discovered, as no-one would be so rude as to eat a chocolate in one mouthful – it is a very good job they don’t see me with a box of chocolates!
The book focuses on Mr Justice Barber, a high Court Judge, who is being threatened with anonymous letters and the chocolates mentioned above. He moves from town to town presiding over court cases in Southern England. We get a detailed look into what the legal system was like during this period of history, and I think that it would be fascinating to anyone in this profession or with a strong interest in the history of justice, but have to admit that some of it went over my head.
The mystery itself is light and fun to read and it was great to be reminded of what life was like 70 years ago, but I think this book is more suited to the older generation who want to reminisce a bit or to real crime fiction fans who like to study the development of the crime novel. I’m pleased that I read it, but don’t think I’ll read any of his other books.
I read this for Cornflower’s Book Group. If you’d like to know what other people thought of Tragedy at Law then take a look at her blog, as we will be disccusing this book there tomorrow.