A lawyer friend give me this book for Christmas and I simply cannot recommend it highly enough for its sheer entertainment.
Now, it is fair to say that, as I come from a legal family, I probably have more insight than many into some of the contents but, quite frankly, I feel that, for sheer amusement value, this book is hard to beat. It is the kind of volume that one places in the bathroom for the delectation of guests knowing that it will not only keep them well entertained, but also cheer their day considerably. Had I found it in this manner, I would most certainly have asked my host to loan it to me!
Anyway, to the substance of the book. It consists of a motley selection of cases dating back over centuries and includes not only the hilarious but also the curious. Interestingly enough, it starts with the trial of Christ. Peter Seddon writes in an engaging and amusing style which demonstrates a clear eye for an unusual turn of phrase and his description of the judiciary and varied appellants and defendents had me howling with laughter at times.
I have a number of favourite cases. The libel case involving Liberace, for example, was hugely amusing and Seddon's writing brought a sense of immediacy to the story - quite frankly, I have rarely laughed so much and the book would have been worth buying for this alone. One should not, however, forget the story of the cats who ate their kindly owner after her demise and the extraordinarily petty cases that came to no less a place than the Old Bailey (The shocking Affair of the Rolled up Umbrella). Shipman even gets a look in - as does a rather interesting predecessor.
Why only four stars? Well this is because I felt that I would have liked some longer cases in the book to "get my teeth into", so to speak. As it is, each one only lasts a few pages. I think that this has something to do with my preference for substantial chunks of meat when it comes to literature rather than mere tasty morsels.
In summary, I can heartily recommend this book. Bought for yourself or as a gift, it simply cannot fail to delight. You will also never be short of a good story to tell at a dinner party when the conversation hits a lull.