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Alan Hamilton - Author & Editor

charfield rail crash

Alan Hamilton author & editor
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Stalemate

This first one is based on a murder in Liverpool in January 1931. One of the most celebrated cases in the history of British crime. If you search for 'The Murder of Julia Wallace' or similar, you'll find page after page of articles and comment. Interest runs high even after more than 80 years. Opinion is sharply divided between those who believe the husband murdered his wife and those who say someone else killed her.

                 

For more on the real case see Behind the Books.

 

In Stalemate, Walter Bruce is the archetypical little man whose experience of the world is that it has been stacked against him since childhood. Yet he knows that intellectually he has always been a cut above his fellows; that only bad luck and others’ prejudice have kept him from the status and rewards his mental qualities should have earned him.


Deep inside he is – and always has been – dissatisfied with his lot but he has hidden this feeling beneath a mask of indifference and of acceptance of things as they are.

 

A humdrum job far below his real capabilities, a social milieu in which he is an obvious misfit, a marriage that has withered away to a barbed neutrality, and poor health are all accepted in a version of stoicism he has acquired from his wide reading.


But his skin is a good deal thinner than he thinks it is. In spite of all he has borne and is still bearing, together with the certainty that his poor health is now a terminal disease which he has been too proud to disclose to his wife, he is appalled to find she has deceived him in a number of ways over many years. This sudden knowledge blows a fuse, although the result is not instantaneous and violent but typically Bruce, slow and calculating. He no longer accepts his way of life; he decides to change it.

What happens when he does, the consequences of his choices and actions, not only on him but on others, are the heart of this story of crime and punishment. The twists and turns of Bruce’s fortunes are not meant to encourage us to condone what he has done but perhaps invite empathy, even sympathy.

 

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