In Thursday’s entry I talked about the launch party for Oxfam’s latest fund-raising project, an anthology of mystery stories called OxCrimes: this is Anthony Horowitz speaking at the event:
Just to re-iterate: The anthology is a dreamteam of fabulous writers: you can find more details at Profile, the publishers, here. The 27 authors include Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Alexander McCall Smith, Fred Vargas, Adrian McKinty and George Pelecanos. All genres covered, and all great stories, nearly all of them specially written for the book. Oxfam have a page about the book on their website here.
So: basically, try and buy it if you can. Terrific stories, and I promise you that the money raised for Oxfam could not be going to a better cause, it will be used for the very best purposes. You can buy it in all the usual places, you can get it for Kindle, and it is available for Kindle in the USA. If you buy the paperback from your local Oxfam shop in the UK, more of the money goes to Oxfam...
Juror 8 by Stuart Neville
All twelve of us had the boy strapped down and wired up the minute the prosecutor opened his mouth. Not a chance in the world this young thug was innocent. They talked till I was dizzy, and not a word told me anything but this young man had stabbed his father in the heart in a fit of anger. They had two witnesses, a man about my age, and a woman in her forties. One saw the boy do it, the other heard him.
And yet, and yet, and yet.
The foreman held a ballot, and we all raised our hands to say guilty. All but one.
The man next to me, Juror 8.
Let’s talk, he said.
And we talked.
observations: If this is sounding familiar, it might be reminding you of the film or play of Twelve Angry Men – in its most famous form, Henry Fonda persuades 11 other men that the obvious guilty verdict in a murder trial is not safe. And indeed this short story is a new take on that, and a very clever, sad and enthralling one. Stuart Neville is not a writer I’ve read before, but I will certainly read him again. His writing skills are impressive: the story is not long, but tells a very complicated, tense story, as well as drawing a complete picture of a man’s life and circumstances.
The picture, from the Library of Congress, is of the jury at a 1914 murder trial in Long Island.
The Spinster by Ann Cleeves
She took up her knitting. She was working on an all-over jersey, a commission from an American woman, who’d wanted natural colours and traditional patterns… She knitted as her mother had done with a leather belt, padded with horsehair, and three pins pointed at both ends. One of the pins she’d stuck into the belt, and the garment grew as a tube. There were three colours: Shetland black, grey and mourrit, and she kept the tension even as she wove the wool into the back of the pattern.
observations: I’m a big fan of Ann Cleeves already (she is best known for the Vera and Shetland series, both now on TV) but this story surprisingly taught me something I didn’t know about knitting: when not a busy blogger, I’m also a keen knitter, and have done some very fancy Fair Isle patterns in my day, but I had never heard of this knitter’s aid, also called a makkin. I think the idea is that you can walk around doing other jobs while knitting – something that the hard-working women of the islands would do all the time. Perhaps that is why the belt is less necessary for others (lazier). This picture is from the Shetland Museum and Archives and used with their kind permission. If you look closely you can see the knitting belt round her waist.