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The Case that Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England Paperback – 1 Nov 2014
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About the Author
Simon Read is an award-winning newspaper reporter and the author of Human Game, In the Dark, and On the House. He lives in Roseville, California.
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Top customer reviews
The circumstances of the case of 74 year old Charles Walton, who was savagely murdered in 1945 in rural Warwickshire were so bizarre that it gave rise to speculation that the death was closely associated with witchcraft. Detective Chief Inspector Fabian (‘of the Yard’) who was then the head of the Flying Squad was called in by the local chief constable and over a period of months, the Yard’s extremely successful detective carried out a highly detailed investigation. He met, for the most part, a sullen silence from the local inhabitants and yet with hindsight they had little or no information to give. Fabian’s suspicions were focussed upon one man; however, with only circumstantial evidence, suspicion was not enough to justify the suspect’s arrest, let alone a conviction.
In this eminently readable true crime book, Mr. Read, like Fabian, has left no stone unturned to unravel this mystery; over and above the criminal investigation (which he has thoroughly probed) Mr. Read has also carried out a highly detailed investigation into witchcraft in and around the area of Warwickshire. Would modern-day forensic science have brought about a successful conclusion to the case? In all probability it would, but this is now; not 1945 with a contaminated crime scene.
It all adds up to a page-turner of a book which the wise reader will not put down until it's finished.
However, the book, as with many books in this genre, comes with padding which holds up the otherwise excellent narrative. We are treated to chapters about Fabian's life and crimes, and whilst interesting in themselves, do hold up the plot of the book and don't have much relevance; clearly Fabian needs to be introduced as he is the major character in the book, but a page or two should suffice.
What is missing is much of a background about the society, religion and economy of the village and also anything about crimes there. Context can help provide clues and make this account deeper. There is also very little about the central characters; chiefly victim and chief suspect. They come across as rather two dimensional. A little digging in records often used by family historians would provide something (I have written several books about crime and killers in the twentieth century and I have always found such sources of use). A 1935 OS map of the village would have been useful, too.
So this is a good book, but could have been better, in my opinion.