During the Second World War, Postgate continued to write left-wing articles and his pamphlet Why You Should Be A Socialist was distributed to members of the military as the war ended. It is believed that this pamphlet made a significant contribution to the land-slide victory gained by the Labour Party in 1945. Postgate remained critical of Stalinist Russia, which he believed had abandoned its socialist ideals.
microbiologist and scientific writer. His younger son, Oliver, is still renowned as a creator of children’s television programmes, including Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, The Clangers and Bagpuss, which in a BBC poll in 1999 was declared the most popular children’s television programme of all time. Even greater fame was achieved by Postgate’s niece-by-marriage, the much loved actor, Angela Lansbury.
In Verdict of Twelve a woman is on trial for the murder of her young nephew and the book follows the inner thoughts and previous history of the jury as the case unfolds before them. Each of these jurors is briefly introduced in the thoughts of the Clerk to the Court who is administering the oaths and then their back-story is told in more or less detail. The jury members have a mixture of backgrounds, each bringing their own experiences and prejudices to the trial, including two who have had first hand experience of murder, one who had successfully got away with murder and another who had been widowed by a savage, unprovoked act of violence.
There are two women on the jury and they are very different types. One is ‘a severe looking, very plain middle-aged woman in black, wearing glasses.’ The other ‘stood out like a single yellow flower in a green field among this dingy collection of mostly middle-aged men, with their grey or red faces. She had used scent fairly freely, and that was a better smell than the heavy dusty smell, as of old books, that filled the court.’
For me, the most fascinating and chilling aspect of the book is the discussion when the jury is trying to reach a verdict and the two women have both decided on the way they are going to vote while many men are still dithering. However, by the end of the debate, they have both been bullied and manipulated by the male jurors to change their decision. Verdict of Twelve is a fascinating look at society and the justice system in the early part of the 20th Century and a very interesting and engaging novel.
When considering Postgate, his main claim to fame has to be his political activities and writing, which flavoured every aspect of his life, including his crime fiction and his determination to make good food and wine accessible to the general public. However, in Verdict of Twelve he wrote one of the most outstanding and innovative crime fiction novels of the late years of the Golden Age.
Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.
The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.