Family Secrets by Derek Malcolm

About the book

Hidden under some papers in his father’s bureau, the sixteen-year-old Derek Malcolm finds a book by the famous criminologist, Edgar Lustgarten called “The Judges and the Damned”. Browsing through the Contents pages Derek reads, ‘Mr. Justice McCardie tries Lieutenant Malcolm – page 33.’ But there is no page 33. The whole chapter has been ripped out of the book. Derek’s father, it emerges, shot his wife’s lover and was acquitted at a famous trial at the Old Bailey. The trial was unique in British legal history as the first case of a crime passionel, where a guilty man is set free, on the grounds of self-defence. Husband and wife lived together unhappily ever after. After his father’s death, Derek received an open postcard from his Aunt Phyllis, which baldly informed him that his real father was the Italian Ambassador to London…By turns laconic and affectionate, Derek Malcolm has written a richly evocative memoir of a family sinking into hopeless disrepair.

Reviewed by Everton Reading Group:

A varied response from love to hate. Those who enjoyed it appreciated the way it was written and the account of the trial. Discussion focused on the ‘class’ aspects in terms of emotion and control. Was this a feature of the times or society?

Star rating: **+

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