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copyright 1940; Alfred A. Knopf publishers, New York; hardbound with decorative red and black boards and gilt lettering on spine; very good condition of book with clean pages and tight binding; quite good conditon of book; dust jacket good conditon with one minor tag on edge; see pics.


Inside Note -

"Toxicoligist will note an error in the middle of Part II.  This is intentional, for obvious reasons.  Apart from this, I am advised by expert friends that the information given is correct."


Description -

Verdict of Twelve is a novel by Raymond Postgate first published in 1940 about a trial by jury seen through the eyes of each of the twelve jurors as they listen to the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict of either "Guilty" or "Not guilty". Verdict of Twelve is set in England in the late 1930s (Hitler, Nazism and in particular anti-Semitism are referred to several times). Up to the final pages of the novel, till after the trial is over, the reader does not know if the defendant—a middle-aged woman charged with murder—is innocent or not.


Case -

Rosalia van Beer is a widowed, childless woman who comes into money when all the relatives of her late husband unexpectedly die in a plane crash. The only surviving member of the family is her 11-year-old nephew Philip, and van Beer considers herself to be his “natural guardian”. She moves into the house in Devon that was built by her father-in-law and leads a quiet life there with Philip, a sickly child for whom she engages a private tutor. The household is run by an older couple who were devoted to their former employer but who dislike, and cheat on, Rosalia van Beer. It soon turns out that Philip is a difficult child, and that he does not get along with his aunt at all.


The situation escalates when van Beer takes away Philip's pet rabbit, which he called Sredni Vashtar (the name of a weasel in a Saki short story, which kills a cruel aunt), and gasses it in the kitchen. When, soon afterwards, the boy is taken ill the old country doctor is unable to diagnose his disease correctly, and Philip dies before another physician can be consulted.


When poison is found in the boy's vomit the police are alerted. Then Philip's tutor comes forward and tells the police that he saw a newspaper clipping about exactly such a case of poisoning in one of the books in the library. As Rosalia van Beer stands to inherit the family fortune, her motive seems to be obvious, and she is charged with murder.


At first, when the jury retires to the jury room, about half of them, including the two women, consider the defendant guilty. However, as time progresses, they can all be convinced by the others that there is reasonable doubt that Rosalie van Beer has committed premeditated murder. In the end, their verdict is one of acquittal.


Only on the way back to her hotel does van Beer tell her barrister and her solicitor what really happened, something she has been aware of all along.

VERDICT OF TWELVE by Raymond Postgate

SKU: BS31g
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