Friday, March 23, 2012

The Second-Last Woman in England-Maggie Joel

The Second-Last Woman in England

Maggie Joel

Felony & Mayhem, May 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781934609996

In May 1953, Great Britain is filled with energy for the future as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth is coming. Mr. Cecil Condor Wallis watches the gala from his home in South Kensington on his new television set. Family and friends are there also; as he and his wife Harriet host a coronation party. At precisely the moment that the newly crowned ruler steps on balcony at Buckingham while the thousands at the scene sang God Save the Queen and many more watching on TV, Harriet shoots Cecil six times. It took a jury forty five minutes to convict her. She was The Second-Last Woman in England to be hanged.

Nine months earlier, Mrs. Harriett Wallis looked forward to the future. Her spouse has a good paying prestigious job and their two kids are well behaved. It started when she hired Miss Corbett as a nanny to Anne and Julius. As she meets the kids, Inspector Harris arrives to talk with Cecil about Mr. Rocastle who worked at the same firm; he vanished after apparently embezzling funds. This is the beginning of the end for Cecil and Harriet Wall even while everyone is increasingly euphoric.

This is an enjoyable historical thriller that opens up with the murder followed by what led to the homicide. Harriet is like the rest of the country as life has begun to return to normal after the Depression and war, and the pending coronation brings fervor of renewal. Although the storyline never matches the opening psychological suspense, fans will enjoy reading this engaging tale wanting to know why.

Harriet Klausner

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