Poor Prisoner's Defense by Richard Sheldon
New York : Simon and Schuster, 1949. Hardcover. 243 pages ; 20 cm. $2.50 dust jacket with lots of rips around the dust jacket edges. Storage odor within the pages. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
POOR PRISONER'S DEFENSE
WHEN DICK RAYNE was briefed to defend Lingley Dixon on a charge of murder, it was just a job to him. A job and a fee, no matter how small. Dixon's was what the English call a Poor Prisoner's case, a defendant who couldn't afford to hire his own counsel, although he desperately needed expert—and very expensive — legal help. Dick Rayne was I neither expert, expensive, experienced, nor convinced of his client's innocence. - Yet, in the course of events, it was Rayne's stubborn integrity and absolute belief in justice and principle — ideals not yet blunted by experience — that saved an innocent man from the gallows.
Lingley Dixon was charged with the murder of a housemaid, a brutal, slashing murder. Village gossip said that he d had improper relations with the girl and that he had murdered her when his respectable reputation and his marriage were threatened.
During the trial, Rayne did his best; he did very well indeed for a first effort in a criminal trial. But the circumstantial evidence was too strong, and Rayne himself secretly agreed with the verdict. Guilty.
It was only afterward that the small, nagging doubts began to crowd in. He found out, for example, that Dixon's wife was not the quiet, subdued, long-suffering woman she seemed to be. Once she had killed a puppy because she thought dogs were messy. Once, she had picked up a kitchen knife and tried to use it during an argument. Very recently she had been in possession of an unaccountably large sum of money. Then, even more unaccountably, she is killed in what seems to be a hit-and-run accident.
And it was then that Rayne began to fight in earnest, with no resources of in-fluence or money or police help or detecting skill. On his side were courage, tenacity, and the faith and good sense of his wife.
POOR PRISONER'S DEFENSE has tremendous mounting suspense, beginning with the meticulous and fascinating account of the trial, and building through the magnificent one-man fight that follows it. Drama, detection, real feeling, fine writing are all here, in a story that will provide a welcome change of pace to mystery readers.
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