The courtroom process keeps its perennial hold on lovers of drama at all levels. At tabloid level it provides revelations of human depravity which nurture every generation’s belief that standards are sinking to previously unknown depths. At the level of high art it is a crucible in which to purge the dross of events and distil essences of truth. Novelists find courtroom proceedings a valuable device for bringing a story to a head and a conclusion: but in real life a judgment or verdict is far more often a stage in a painful odyssey, or even the start of one, than its resolution.
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[*] Trial and Error: The Maguires, the Guildford Pub Bombings and British Justice by Robert Kee. Hamish Hamilton, 284 pp., £10.95, 13 October 1986, 0 241 11958 8. The other two books were discussed by Paul Foot and Stephen Sedley respectively (LRB, 18 September and 9 October).