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The Right to Murder

Gaby Wood: ‘In a Lonely Place’

22 March 2018
In a Lonely Place 
byDorothy B.Hughes.
NYRB, 224 pp., $14.95, August 2017, 978 1 68137 147 4
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In a Lonely Place 
directed byNicholas Ray.
Criterion Collection, £14.99
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... romance to take the shape of a murder investigation? In a Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray’s elegantly bitter film about damaged trust, throws that question at its viewers. If all love stories are inquiries of one kind or another, the movie seems to suggest, perhaps they differ only in their relative violence. When filming ...

The Best

Tom Shippey

22 February 1996
Alfred the Great 
byDavid Sturdy.
Constable, 268 pp., £18.95, November 1995, 0 09 474280 4
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King Alfred the Great 
byAlfred Smyth.
Oxford, 744 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 19 822989 5
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... Pre-Conquest England – England, that is, between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans – notoriously has no presence even in the educated popular mind. Its history is unknown except to specialists, not part of the school curriculum, regarded as part of the Dark Ages. Since everything began in 1066, the Hammer of the Scots can occupy all history books as ‘Edward the First’, his namesakes the Confessor and the Elder literally felt not to count – even though the latter’s mark may still be visible on the shire system of Central England ...

Beefcake Ease

Miranda Carter: Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen

14 January 2002
Robert Mitchum: Solid, Dad, Crazy 
byDamien Love.
Batsford, 208 pp., £15.99, December 2001, 0 7134 8707 0
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Robert Mitchum: Ba by, I Don’t Care 
byLee Server.
Faber, 590 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 571 20994 7
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McQueen: The Biography 
byChristopher Sandford.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £16.99, October 2001, 0 00 257195 1
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... At the height of Steve McQueen’s fame in 1968, after a run of huge box-office successes – The Sand Pebble, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt – it was Robert Mitchum, his elder by 13 years and a star for more than twenty, who was voted the screen’s ‘godfather of cool’ on America’s university campuses ...
6 December 1984
Agatha Christie 
byJanet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... At first sight Janet Morgan does not seem the obvious person to choose as the official biographer of Agatha Christie. She describes herself on the jacket of the book as a ‘writer and consultant’, who now ‘advises governments, companies and other organisations on long-range strategic planning, new technology and different approaches to whatever they find themselves doing ...
9 October 1986
Innocence 
byPenelope Fitzgerald.
Collins, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 00 223105 0
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The Dresden Gate 
byMichael Schmidt.
Hutchinson, 152 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 09 165510 2
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First Fictions: Introduction 9 
byDeborah Moffat, Kristien Hemmerechts, Douglas Glover, Dorothy Nimmo and Jaci Stephen.
Faber, 255 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13607 9
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Continent 
byJim Crace.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 434 14824 5
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... principal characters are Italian, and I kept asking myself: how is it done? She knows quite a lot about Italian society: but more important, she has somehow got inside her Italian characters, so that when a young Englishwoman appears on the scene she really seems a foreigner and not, as one might expect, the focus of the ...
25 February 1993
Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
byTony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
byJames Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
byLeonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
byRobert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... Anthony Lambrianou, the self-confessed author of Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror, admits that Ronnie Kray did shock him. Just once. An unforgettable occasion. A motor eased alongside Tony at the corner of Blythe Street, Bethnal Green ...
15 June 2016
What Happened, Miss Simone? A Biography 
byAlan Light.
Canongate, 309 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78211 871 8
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... 1954, the tall, wary 21-year-old classical pianist Eunice Waymon found herself outside the Midtown Bar and Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey a few blocks north of the Boardwalk. Waymon, who had spent most of her hard-striving life in North Carolina, the sixth of eight offspring ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
byJ. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... then just as certain as you sit there, in the period of our lives you will see a Red world.’ So began the 1954 Senate hearings on subversive influence in the army. But those hearings turned out to be McCarthy’s last crusade; in a formal and ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’

24 January 2013
The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
byMorgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
byAndrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
byStephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
byMichael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
byRichard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
byHugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited byMichael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... Premier Exhibitions Inc. describes itself as ‘the leading provider of museum-quality exhibitions throughout the world’: Bodies lets visitors ‘see inside carefully preserved real anatomical specimens’ and Dialog in the Dark features New York in a blackout (‘and here’s the twist – your guide is visually impaired ...

Biscuits. Oh good!

Anna Vaux: Antonia White

27 May 1999
Antonia White 
byJane Dunn.
Cape, 484 pp., £20, November 1998, 9780224036191
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... Antonia White died in 1980 leaving behind four novels, over thirty translations (mainly Colette), two books about cats, some stories and a piece of autobiography. She also left two daughters (Susan Chitty and Lyndall Hopkinson) and more than a million words of diaries – work that some consider her greatest achievement, and the editing of which led to a public row (and legal action) between the girls, who disagreed about what kind of woman their mother was ...
6 February 2014
Becoming a Londoner: A Diary 
byDavid Plante.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 1 4088 3975 1
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The Animals: Love Letters between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
edited byKatherine Bucknell.
Chatto, 481 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 0 7011 8678 4
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... The much gossiped about George Eliot absolutely hated the idea of people talking behind their hands. The year she took up with a married man was also the year Ruskin’s wife revealed her husband’s impotence during court proceedings ...

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