2008: 61. The Maul and the Pear Tree 

“A little before midnight on the last night of his life Timothy Marr. a linen draper of Ratcliffe Highway, set about tidying up the shop, helped by the shop-boy, James Gowen.”

The Maul and The Pear Tree, P.D. James & T.A. Critchley

This was my 300 book for the Dewey Decimal Project (and can I just say how much easier it was to find a cool 300 book at the Palisades branch library than it was to find a 200??).  I picked it because 1) I secretly adore true crime, if it’s well written, and 2) this is the only book by P.D. James I haven’t read (even though she was only a co-author, and the library’s copy is so old that it refers to her as the author of one novel!!).  Anyway, it tells the story of a famous English crime - the Ratcliffe Highway murders, when, in the early 1800’s two families were brutally murdered in their homes. The murder was ostensibly solved, but it’s far from clear that the “murderer” (who allegedly committed suicide in his cell before trial) was the actual culprit.  

In terms of a book, it’s pretty good.  It’s a little dry - too much of the story is told by just reprinting the newspaper articles and testimony from the time, and the book very much drags when that happens - it is much better when the authors analyze and interpret the facts, or propound their own theories, or even put it all in historic context (like the fact that at the time there basically was no police force, just parish courts that refused to work together).  And they propound a pretty plausible solution to the crime, so overall a pretty enjoying true crime read.


Date/Place Completed: 4/19/08; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction, Library, Dewey Decimal Project, PD James Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017