On 14 June 1856, after a scandalous and extremely high-profile trial, Dr William Palmer was hanged for the poisoning of his friend John Parsons Cook. The case was one of the most infamous of its time, and as the 12-day trial unfolded, accusations of no less than 14 murders came to light.
Dr Palmer's reputation as one of England's most famed poisoners has become so widespread that his effigy now appears in Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors; but perhaps most scandalous was the way the Lord Chief Justice, the Attorney-General and the jury contrived against Palmer to secure a verdict of guilty as charged, despite the conflicting evidence.
A century after Palmer's public execution, Robert Graves revisits the case to determine what the evidence really says. They Hanged My Saintly Billy is Palmer's story, and a dramatic tale of murderous intrigue and betrayal.
Robert von Ranke Graves (24 July 1895 - 7 December 1985) was an English poet and novelist, scholar, translator and writer of antiquity, specialising in Classical Greece and Rome. During his long life he produced more than 140 works. Graves's translations and innovative analysis and interpretations of the Greek myths, the memoir of his early life, Good-Bye To All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess, have never been out of print.
Graves earned his living by writing popular historical novels, including I, Claudius (for which he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), King Jesus, The Golden Fleece and Count Belisarius. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961 and made an honorary fellow of St John’s College, Oxford, in 1971.
Firstly the audio production is masterful. Perhaps the best of near 1100 books I have listened to. It’s a dramatic performance as you listen to a complex story unfold. Its recited in the 1st party and the setting is time suitable, sounding and using expression’s that would have been used in 1830. I knew Robert Graves was good, but gracious, he is a real genius. The story starting slowly drags you in to disparate lives destined to collide, and like a Shakespeare tragedy you can see it coming but no one else seem to notice. Its fantastic, enthralling and to my shame I left it in my library for close on two years before listening. What a fool I was. I would put it up there with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. It’s a classic that somehow fell through the bars. Get it, and prepare to be entertained.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
More facts, more substance, it was sadly lacking in both for me.
Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Graves again?
I am not sure that I would
How could the performance have been better?
The narrator could have been a little less irritating with his "brummies' accent which he rather seemed to revel in.
You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?
In a nutshell, no, I am going to return it.
Any additional comments?
I thought it was going to be similar to "Death at the Priory" or "Dancing for the Hangman" both of these books are excellent. This however, was just plain tedious
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a book by Robert Graves that i had not heard of. It is beautifully written, full of tension even though we know the ending. He puts the case for William Palmer's innocence clearly and persuasively without, ironically, painting him as a saint. The performance is first class and I found this book on audible via readings of HEBates by the same reader. I cannot recommend this highly enough.