A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson

By Laura Thompson

On 7 November 1974, a nanny named Sandra Rivett was once bludgeoned to loss of life in a Belgravia basement. A moment lady, Veronica, Countess of Lucan, was once additionally attacked. the fellow named in courtroom as wrongdoer of those crimes, Richard John Bingham, seventh Earl of Lucan, disappeared within the early hours of the subsequent morning. The case, solved within the eyes of the legislation, has retained its fascination ever since.

Laura Thompson, acclaimed biographer of Agatha Christie, narrates the tale that led as much as that cataclysmic occasion, and attracts on her enormous forensic talents to re-evaluate the potential truths in the back of one among postwar Britain's such a lot infamous murders. a special classification OF homicide is a portrait of an period, of a unprecedented forged of characters, of a secret, of a latest fantasy. half social historical past, half detective tale, it tells in masterly type one of many nice stories of our collective residing memory.

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1 For further details of these eleven titled murderers, see Appendix I (page 377). *2 For further details of these cases, see Appendix II (page 380). PART I The Lucan Myth ‘I met Murder on the way – He had a mask like Castlereagh – Very smooth he looked, yet grim…’ SHELLEY, The Mask of Anarchy, 1819 The famous murders all become myths, and that myth is not necessarily a distillation of truth. It is, more precisely, a distillation of our perceptions. It has a different kind of truth, symbolic rather than factual.

I have hit my man,’ he said. Yet in the House of Lords he was acquitted on a ludicrous technicality: his victim was wrongly named in the indictment, presumably in order to leave a loophole through which Cardigan could slide. ’ That same year, 1841, the right to plead exemption from justice for a first offence was ended, but nobody really believed that privilege of peerage did not carry on regardless. In 1922, for instance, the public was convinced that Ronald True, a former RAF officer, had dodged the gallows because he was the illegitimate son of an unnamed peeress.

Here, then, is the forty-year-old Lucan myth. It tells a simple story, as myths do: that of a man whose charmed life went wrong. The damage was self-inflicted, but the story is not a tragedy, because the man never had the capacity for greatness that a tragic hero requires. He was simply born lucky. He had every advantage, and he squandered them all. Richard John Bingham was born on 18 December 1934, the second of four children. His father, although not excessively rich, was more than comfortable.

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