September Book Discussion: A Place of Execution

Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate
edited September 1 in Heaven
This September it was planned to read a crime novel early on in the year, as these have been popular reads, but Margery Allingham, the author originally suggested, did not win any champions to lead the monthly discussion, so instead the book we've chosen to read this September is one by Val McDermid, because I was willing to lead it.

I read this earlier this year and still want to chat about it. It's a crime novel called A Place of Execution (link to Wikipedia), first published in 1999 which both won and was nominated for a number of prizes. The Wikipedia link gives the names of various film versions. It's a book set concurrently in two periods - the current, as a journalist in the 1990s tries to write a book telling of a child's murder in the Peak District, and in 1963, the time of the first Moors Murders when this crime happened. For those that don't know the Peak District* is a wilder area between Manchester and Sheffield. The book puts together the reports of the time and the story of the investigating police officer, now many of the protagonists have died, as, having previously been reluctant to tell the story, he may now be willing to talk about this famous case.

It has been chosen as a standalone introduction to Val McDermid as it is not part of any of the series she has written, is set in an interesting period historically, is not straightforward and I believe there is quite a bit to discuss from the book. It's well-written, Val McDermid learnt her trade as a crime reporter in Manchester and that knowledge shows in her books.

All the normal things - sign up below if you're interested, questions to come on the 20th to give people a chance to read the book.

The Peak District is actually two areas, the Dark Peak, to the north and east, which includes Kinder Scout, where all the mass trespasses and campaigns for the northern cities to have access to the countryside happened, coloured by dark gritstone, peat bogs and moors of that area; and to the south and west of the Dark Peak, the White Peak, which is full of limestone scars and gorges, picturesque villages and disused railways for amazing walking. The Hope Valley Railway Line runs from Sheffield to Manchester and goes through Edale, tucked into the edge of Kinder Scout, from where the Pennine Way heads north along the Pennines, the backbone of Britain, all the way to Scotland.

Comments

  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I'm in, though as I'm in the middle of another book at present, it'll be awhile before I get going on it. It does sound interesting, and I've always meant to read a Val McDermid and have never got around to it.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I started early, since the last book was short and I am back in lock down with time on my hands. I am only working 3 days a weeks while schools are closed. I get a bit stressed reading books about children being harmed so was naughty and read the end first, a habit I have when reading books that make me anxious. A lot of other book lovers consider this sacrilege, but I can now enjoy seeing how the protagonists solve the mystery while already knowing the worst. The only downside is I definitely won't be working out the solution myself this time, but I find modern books have a lot more twists and are harder to solve than some of the classics anyway. I also found the T.V. adaption online. I enjoyed it, even though it is quite different than the book (from what I have read so far).
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Almost 150 pages in. A truly enjoyable book. The step-father is a real putz.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    just started on this book, in an e-book version, as like Mili there's a COVID lockdown in place here. May have to look up a map from when I walked the Pennine Way decades ago, to remind me of the geography.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Finished it last night-Wow!!
  • You can see why I still want to talk about it?
  • HelixHelix Shipmate
    I read another of her books - at the beginning of September thinking that my copy wasn't going to be freed up from the library (and wanted to keep solidarity with the book group as best I could)- but huzzah - I downloaded it yesterday and I am utterly gripped. I intended to turn off my light at 10pm last night and had to tear myself away at midnight.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    I've been gripped too. Not finished it yet, but this is the second book in a row where other things have been ignored so I can keep reading.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    Tried to get this from the library but when I put it on hold it said "Unknown wait time" which didn't sound good, so I bought the e-book as it was only $10 and I'm impressed by how gripping people here say they are finding it. Just finished my previous read so I'm starting this next.
  • HelixHelix Shipmate
    Well I raced through it - could not put down! It was worth the wait and the late hours ! Thank you for the suggestion.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Golly @Curiosity killed , that was an amazing read. Thanks for suggesting A Place of Execution, it's ages since I've read such a page-turner. I'm looking forward to the discussion.
  • I'm glad everyone else found this book as gripping as I did - I finished it at 4am one night because I couldn't put it down either.

    These are the questions that occur to me, but just take them as a starting point for discussion. I read it a few months ago and haven't fully reread it for this discussion, so anything else that occurs to others is welcome. I'm trying to phrase them in such a way as to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn't finished yet, and warn them that spoilers will follow.

    1. If you remember the period, did the book evoke the atmosphere of rural England/Britain in the 1960s?
    2. In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot?
    3. How much did the existence of the death penalty affect the story?
    4. Was the denouement satisfying?
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I was born in Canada 10 days before JFK was shot so I have an affinity for the time period. As an historian, the portrayal did not seem far off from the culture as I have understood it. Attitudes towards sexual abuse and especially inside families seemed to drive the plot. Class issues were also key. The death penalty was crucial because without it to the locals would have had no judicial means by which to eliminate the problem permanently. I think the denouement was satisfactory especially given the monstrous nature of the crimes.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    1. If you remember the period, did the book evoke the atmosphere of rural England/Britain in the 1960s?

    I'm too young and not in the correct geographical area to answer this one!

    2. In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot?

    The attitudes and laws influenced the decisions that were made, especially by the residents of Scarsdale. For example, the fears police would not believe Alison or the other children, especially as upper class people could get away with more then than perhaps even rich and powerful people today. I might add more to this answer when I have had time to reflect.

    3. How much did the existence of the death penalty affect the story?

    If the dealth penalty had been abolished, somebody may have chosen to risk knocking off the squire in an 'accident' as they would not have risked death themselves. They also may not have tried to frame him as if he only went to jail for life or 25 years or so there would be time for him to perhaps prove his innocence. Plus they wanted him dead, not just punished.

    4. Was the denouement satisfying? [/quote]

    The denouement was satisfying, but I did wonder if Paul and Helen would eventually find out the truth. The book might be different if written and set today with modern, cheap DNA tests. If Helen decided to do a test for fun or to trace family history she would have realised that her father at least was not who she thought he was!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    edited September 21
    1. If you remember the period, did the book evoke the atmosphere of rural England/Britain in the 1960s?
    I'm three years younger than Alison, and was bought up in central London rather the countryside. Things like the importance of the pop charts and the furnishings in the rooms did evoke the time well. Rural areas must have felt very remote then. Even in the 70s when I moved to a small town for my first professional job I had to use the operator to call my parents back in London from the phone box, and I was amazed at the lack of public transport. Although I don't know it well, I've been to the Peak District quite a few times. We spent a week in Edale in November 1990 in an old stone cottage. It was freezing and it did have central heating. I can't imagine how cold the houses in the book must have been. One thing from that that resonated with the book was having to pick the keys up from a farm. The whole layout was very much like I imagine Scardale to be. I don't know about all the inhabitants looking similar, but there were loads of semi-feral black and white cats about that were obviously from the same family.
    2. In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot? I think the sexual abuse of children was much more swept under the carpet than it is now. There was, I think, often the sense that it must be the child's fault. Women were also much more dependent on men. Anne Bennett isn't working even though she is a school teacher, and even if she moved areas after her marriage I assume she could have found a job. It was just assumed women looked after their men.
    3. How much did the existence of the death penalty affect the story? For the villagers it was a good way of getting rid of Philip, however given the old mine working etc I'm sure a convincing accident could have been staged. I wasn't at all sure that someone wouldn't have cracked, and that Alison would have successfully become Janis
    4. Was the denouement satisfying? I think so. As I've said I have my doubts as to the whole plot working, and I assumed Bennett had got it wrong, from the way the story was framed. However I thought Clough knew that something didn't add up, hence the friendship drifting apart and Clough leaving the force.
    All in all it was a really enjoyable read. Thanks for suggesting it @Curiosity killed .
  • Coming in to answer my own questions:

    1. If you remember the period, did the book evoke the atmosphere of rural England/Britain in the 1960s?
    I'm a bit younger than @Sarasa but from when I was 5 to 15 we lived in rural Northamptonshire in a old stone cottage with storage heaters and a Rayburn, so all of those things were very evocative: the frost inside the windows in the mornings and the cold in bedrooms at night without fan heaters to crouch around after a bath (and burn on if we got too close). When we first lived in the village it was bigger than the one in the story, maybe a 500 population, small village school, with a tinier hamlet beyond, so we did know most people (it had a couple of new estates built while we were still there). Going into town, Northampton, by bus to meet with school friends on Saturdays, wandering around the market, buying chart singles in Woolworths and eating in at Wimpy. Northampton was the only place we could all get to and from and the buses were a bit far and few between, not at all on Sundays, so we'd only get a couple of hours together. It was a long walk or bicycle ride to see my nearest school friend, in another village some miles off. Most others were inaccessible as too far away to get to unless catching their school bus home, then staying overnight.

    I also remember how we were all kept shut in when there were certain people in the area, not allowed to roam as freely as we were normally. (I don't know exactly who or why, but the word would go out amongst the parents and we'd be told not to use the alleyways, not be out alone.) I suspect that atmosphere of fear and claustrophobia was prevalent as the children started disappearing during the time of the Moors Murders.

    Since then I've walked in the Peak District a few times, including around Buxton, so have seen the area and experienced the distances between villages.

    2. In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot?
    It was the rule of the squire in a country area and the lack of acknowledgement of sexual abuse that felt true to the time.

    (We had a friend from the same village whose mother died of cancer when she was quite young - about 10? Looking back, with all the safeguarding training I've had since, I've wondered since if her father started abusing her, but no-one would even face that thought at the time, just suggested we protect ourselves.)

    The police work and limitations also had a huge impact on the plot, although the villagers made sure their clues could not be faulted. Without computers, records were slightly easier to fudge, so a live child could replace a dead child in the same family by moving.

    3. How much did the existence of the death penalty affect the story?

    I wondered if one of the reasons Val McDermid wrote this book was to explore the differences in trials before and after the death penalty was repealed and then found other differences to explore.

    In 1965, the death penalty for murder was banned in England, Scotland and Wales, although the law banning the death penalty was not enacted until 1973, and there were still hanging offences on the statute books until 1998. The Moors Murderers were not tried or sentenced until 1966.

    4. Was the denouement satisfying?
    From the way the book was written there was obviously going to be a but, somewhere. The policeman in charge, Bennet, did not come over as confident he had really solved this case or that the villagers had told him everything they knew, and, yes, I suspect the team also had doubts, which disillusioned others too. Not that the stepfather was guilty of the rapes and paedophilia he was charged for as there was enough evidence of that.

    The actual twist was unexpected, the extent of the offending.

    One of the questions I meant to ask and forgot, is:

    Did you feel a murder had been committed?

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    Just posting to remind myself - I bought this book in a charity shop and haven't got round to reading it yet, but it looks good, so I'm hoping to read it this weekend and then I'll join the discussion.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    edited September 22
    Like some other folks here, I found this book hard to put down and raced through it in a couple of days. I really, really found it engaging and satisfying.

    1. If you remember the period, did the book evoke the atmosphere of rural England/Britain in the 1960s?

    Definitely not my time period -- I was born about the same time as Helen, and in another country, so it was historical fiction for me. The atmosphere felt like it was very believable and well described, from the perspective of reading it as an outsider.

    2. In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot?

    As others have said, the hushed-up attitude towards child sexual abuse, the very archiac feel of a remote village like that -- it seemed quite believable for the time period. Smaller details too -- the constant cigarette smoking and all the little social cues around who would offer a smoke to whom and when it was or wasn't polite to accept. The fact, noted above, that Ann is not working as a teacher after her marriage to George. Very casual sexism that's just taken for granted -- there's a moment when George holds out an empty teacup for one of the WPCs to refill for him, which really struck me as something that set the story solidly in an area when women could enter professions like the police, but certainly were not seen as being in any way men's equals. Of course well past 1963 it was considered acceptable in some workplaces for men to ask women whose job titles were equivalent to their own to "get us some coffee, dear." Ah, the bad old days.

    3. How much did the existence of the death penalty affect the story?

    A great deal -- Ruth and the villagers wanted Philip dead, so they set up this whole elaborate plot to make sure he would be not just found guilty of a crime, but a crime for which he could be executed. Did I understand properly from the book that at this time in England, only murders using a gun were punishable by the death penalty? I think it was right about this same time that we stopped using the death penalty here in Canada, so it was interesting to see how central the idea of the death penalty was to this plot.

    I'm going to leave #4 and the bonus question about whether a murder was committed, until a bit later, because I have a lot of say on that which might take a separate post, and I have to go to work now.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    I was a bit put off Val McDermid because of her reputation as a writer of "psychological thrillers", a genre That I don't like much. * But the OP by Curiosity Killed persuaded me to give this book a go, and I'm glad I did.

    After about 3 pages I was sure that McDermid could write well and the story started to grip me, as it did other Shipmates. Halfway through Part 1, and reading more rapidly than I normally do, I told my wife that the book was basically a well-written police procedural, at least as good as those featuring Inspector Bill Slider by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, which I think are excellent. But Part 2 took me by surprise , with its massive plot twist.

    In your opinion, how did the attitudes and laws of the 1960s drive the plot?

    On attitudes, the lack of acknowledgement of sexual abuse that felt true to the time, as did the almost universal smoking, and some of the casual sexism (e.g. towards the WPCs). The rule of the squire to that extent felt dated even earlier than the 1960s (prewar perhaps). It even struck the local police as dated: they spoke of it as an isolated hangover from feudal times.

    The peculiarity of the law at the time (which I had forgotten) that the death penalty was abolished from "ordinary" murder , but still in place for gun-murders, emerged at the trial. In Part 2 it became clear that not only was this feature known to the remote villages (surprising to me) but was central to their plot to get rid of the squire.

    Did you feel a murder had been committed?

    I was surprised that the DPP was prepared to pursue this charge in the circumstances, though less surprised that the jury (knowing from the clear case of child rape that the accused was a nasty piece of work) would convict him of murder.

    Personally, I was unconvinced, as I felt if murder had been done along with the bloody struggle down the old mine, the body would have been there too.

    (*) I recently saw a review of McDermid's new book, which is in an entirely different genre, and may be worth chasing up to read.
  • I've read it and enjoyed it. I cannot answer most of the questions, having no familiarity worth speaking of either with the setting or with the 1960s. The death penalty thing, too, is rather foreign to me, as we have different issues with it in the States. (For instance, I can't wrap my head around the idea that murder by gun is a capital offense in the book, while, say, strangling, would not be. WTF? I mean, what about murder by hammer, or hacksaw, or the death of a thousand cuts...)

    But I can answer the bonus question. Did I think that a murder took place? No. The situation reminds me of one mentioned by Dr. Samuel Johnson, where he describes a son living in a community where his father has been murdered and the community refuses to do justice. His opinion is that the son would be quite justified in saying, "These people are barbarians who refuse to do justice... I am therefore in a state of nature... I will arise and do justice for my father."

    The community here has good reason to believe that disclosing the true crime would result in no justice--in fact, would almost certainly result in greater acts of injustice (removing the children into care, and doing nothing to prevent future victims). They very sensibly look round for a way to do justice for a horrendous series of crimes that the system would probably leave unpunished (because unbelieved). Their plan has the added benefit of preventing almost guaranteed future crimes.

    So no, no murder.

    I do think the people involved with Janis had better sort out their stories in view of the new DNA technology, which is apt to give other people heart attacks when they get their results.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    A few more thoughts on this book.

    The quality of the writing extends to the vivid characterisation. I could particularly relate to Bennett, as the newly promoted professional anxious to do the job really thoroughly - and better than his old-school superior. Also Clough the hard-bitten but still human sergeant, harried mother Ruth, the daughter Alison (as an academically able village girl facing difficulties in continuing her secondary education let alone going on to higher ed, the cunning old matriarch Ma Lomas, and her grandson Charlie who knows the surrounding countryside even more than the other villagers but has his own secret reason to want to leave the village.

    Like others, I felt it was good that the book came out in the 1990s and its denouement is set then, before DNA came into wide use as a forensic or ancestor-tracing too. If Part 2 was set in the present, no reader would believe that the secret had stayed that way fro so long.
  • I did not know this, as I wasn't born when a lot of this happened and too young to understand when the death penalty was suspended.

    However, I suspect that the death penalty requirements were well known as there had been a review and a new law enacted in 1957 in the wake of a couple of people receiving the death penalty questionably - one of the very famous ones was Derek Bentley in 1953. That act divided murders into capital or non-capital offences, according to this Wikipedia article, the capital offences were:
    1957 Homicide Act Offences punishable by death
    Only six categories of murder were now punishable by execution:
    • in the course or furtherance of theft
    • by shooting or causing an explosion
    • while resisting arrest or during an escape
    • of a police officer
    • of a prison officer by a prisoner
    • the second of two murders committed on different occasions (if both done in Great Britain).
    The police and the government were of the opinion that the death penalty deterred offenders from carrying firearms and it was for this reason that such offences remained punishable by death.

    So had the Moors Murderers been caught earlier, because they were tried for more than one murder, they could have been punished by the death penalty. (I did vaguely know that they had just missed the death penalty, it came up in discussions about Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, usually in irritation that the law had changed to reprieve them.)

    Val McDermid's books are carefully accurate as to what was available in forensic tools when. She writes in different periods and her first books were published some time ago.

    @Tukai I avoid her psychological books too, the first few of the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan books are OK, but I got put off reading her for some time after a later book in that series which just felt gratuitously violent and tension building. Tony Hill is a psychologist trying to introduce forensic psychology to the police at the start of that discipline. Carol Jordan is a police officer in the books I've read. The one I would recommend in that series is the second, Wire in the Blood, which Val McDermid wrote after meeting Jimmy Savile. But those books are graphically violent.

    I do like her Kate Brannigan series, although they were written some time ago (1992-1998). Kate Brannigan is a private detective and the series is set in 1980-1990s Manchester. The other early series, if you can get hold of them are the Lindsay Gordon novels. Lindsay Gordon is a lesbian freelance journalist, based on McDermid herself; the books are written between 1987 and 2003, covering topical stories. The Karen Pirie series I also like. Karen Pirie is a police officer, different ranks as the series moves through the books, which have been written over several years, with very different backgrounds. In the first, written in 2003, she was a minor character, appears again in 2008, then from 2014 there's been a new book every couple of years.

    And then there are the standalone books which are all very different again.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    Regarding the ending and whether a murder had been committed ...

    When you go into a book knowing there's going to be a big twist at the end -- which you do with this one because even before you open the book the back cover blurb tells you that something is revealed years later to change everything George thinks he knows about the case -- the impact on me, at least, as a reader, is to try to be more hypervigilant even than I normally would be in reading a mystery, trying to figure out what the twist will be and what the detectives are getting wrong.

    Of course the "no body, no crime" thing is troubling all the way through, so I did consider the possibility that Alison might not really have been dead and her death faked -- but I couldn't see the right clues leading to how it was done. I also wondered if it was a case of the classic "The detective was really the killer!" -- not that I thought George Bennett had killed Alison, but I thought that Clough, whose interest in the case was frequently noted as being unusual, might have been involved -- possibly in helping Ruth plant evidence to frame Hawkin. Ultimately, by the time part one of the book was finished, I did think Hawkin had killed Alison despite the lack of a body, but I thought that someone had conspired with Ruth to plant evidence to make a conviction more likely.

    I didn't suspect that Janis was going to turn out to be Alison, nor that she'd had a child by Hawkin, so I did find the twist still surprising and satisfying. I think, probably like the police officers, I had underestimated the villagers' ability to work together to pull off a deception of that magnitude (and I do think in real life there would be a weak link in such a vast conspiracy that involved the cooperation of so many people). Also, as I saw someone point out in a comment about the book on another forum, if what the village wanted was to decisively get rid of Hawkin in a way that wouldn't require the sexual abuse to come to light, surely arranging an "accident" to have him killed could be carried out with the same level of coordination shown in framing him, and would be far less risky (after all, they couldn't guarantee that he would be convicted even with all the elaborate work they did to frame him).

    The twist and reveal does hang on a HUGE coincidence -- that Alison Carter's daughter would grow up to meet and fall in love with George Bennett's son. Being people of the same age from the same part of the country makes that plausible, but it's still a big stretch. But then I guess it's a case of "we would have got away with it, if not for this incredible coincidence we couldn't have foreseen!"

    I'm not sure if I'd consider Hawkin to have been technically murdered or not, but even though I normally disapprove of the death penalty, it's hard not to feel that he got what was coming to him.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    Before I got over anxious and read the ending, I wondered if Alison had been kidnapped and held somewhere by her captor, either trapped or brainwashed and would turn up later.

    Didn't Paul and Helen meet in Europe? Making it an even bigger coincidence that they ended up together.

    I don't believe in the death penalty as it is sometimes mistakenly used on the innocent and I think the guilty should have the time to (hopefully) repent. However in books and also real life it is hard not to think justice was done in cases like this.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    I believe Paul and Helen did meet in Europe but said that the fact that they came from the same part of England was something they had in common.

    Philip Hawkin would be a classic argument against the death penalty, since he was put to death for a crime he didn't commit, but since he committed so many other crimes for which he was never punished, and certainly would have committed more if not stopped, his is the sort of death it would be hard to mourn.
  • Apart from dramatic licence, the huge coincidence that Paul and Helen met and got involved with one another was meant to be one of those horrible things that really do happen, that when they do happen in real life, everyone says that if they were written into a novel nobody would ever believe them. And that's how George and Alison react to it.

    Two ex-pats in the same place are almost certain to be introduced by everyone they meet in common. The coincidence is them ending up in the same place.

    Doesn't one of the villagers say in the book that they would have been blamed if they arranged an accident and nobody would have believed them (or reported that this is why they'd agreed to do it this way). This impossible plot meant that they persuaded the police to do their work for them and no-one could come investigating their lives for ever more to find out who arranged the accident. And it was all done in full public sight, in the machinery of the law. I'm sure the question was asked in the book.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    One of the characters argued that an 'accident' would be too risky as the death of a squire would be looked into much more closely than that of an ordinary villager.

    I must admit that when I lived in London for a short while and travelled in Europe, I met more than one Australian who was from my local area in Aus or knew people I knew.
  • TukaiTukai Shipmate
    Me too.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I hesitated to add this question, as it might get into Epiphanies territory, being a sensitive topic that personally affects many. But often in real life adults who sexually assault children groom the entire community. One reason that victims are not believed is that sexual predators are often charming, well-liked and sometimes pillars of the community. How would the story have differed if somebody like the popular old squire was found to be assaulting children? Would photo evidence have made a difference?
  • Interesting question, and I don't know. I've known people, including one of my secondary school headmasters, who've been caught doing something inappropriate later, but no-one that I've really found it totally surprising for. The old headmaster it was more a - well, he always felt a bit off - feeling when he hit the papers.

    I was in Stoke Mandeville hospital as a 13 year old when it was part of Jimmy Savile's sphere of operations, and was primed by my schoolfriends to ask if he was there. I wasn't that bothered and couldn't have cared less when I was told not around this week. But the nurses reactions showed they weren't keen on him. I did ask if they didn't like him, and they said not really. So I suspect the later revelations about him weren't a total surprise to those nurses.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    That is an interesting question, @Mili. The fact that so many people already disliked and distrusted Hawkin certainly made it easier both to carry out the conspiracy, and probably to obtain a convinction. A charming, well-loved abuser would have been able to get away with even worse, I suspect.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    To go back to whether or not it was murder. I think it was as it was pre-mediated it was murder. Trying to justify on the grounds if the villagers didn't do something Hawkin would get away with it and that he was a monster anyway doesn't really wash. Although I very much liked the book I can't really believe that the villagers would have all managed to get their stories straight and stick to them. The way Charlie and Ma Lomax slipped in their stories about seeing the squire sounded convincing, but in real live they'd have had to have worked hard to get them out that way.
    I thought the fact that something that happened in the cave, but the body wasn't there was odd, and I would have thought the police would have done too. It would have been so easy to have left a body there, maybe hidden under some stones.
    That's an interesting point about would it have been different if Hawkin had been well liked. It was suggested that the pictures were explicit, so if they had been shown round I imagine it would have been hard for anyone to justify. If they had just shown an avuncular Hawkin getting a bit too friendly I guess some people would have wanted to explain it away.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    It's not murder; he was hanged by the state.
  • You'll notice how little people talked to anybody official. That really cuts down on the number of possible mistakes you can make in a conspiracy.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    Caissa wrote: »
    It's not murder; he was hanged by the state.

    Hanged by the state, but framed by the villagers, so even if it doesn't technically count as murder, they conspired to bring about his death.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Yes, but I doubt a charge of murder could be laid and stuck.
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host, 8th Day Host
    Oh, I agree, they couldn't be charged with murder -- I wonder if there is a legal charge that could be brought against the villagers for conspiring in the death of Hawkin? Anyway, I was thinking more of whether they were morally culpable of murdering him, to which I think my answer is "Yeah, but I'm not sure it's that big of a sin as he's no loss to humanity."
  • Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, I guess, technically, although it could be argued justice was done.
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