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‘There is an old saying, ‘Murder will out.’ I am really unable to see why this should be so…’
Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal (1907) inspired the classic Ealing film Kind Hearts and Coronets. But though both works are comedies about a serial murderer, they are different creatures. The eponymous narrator of Roy Horniman’s novel, son of a Jewish commercial traveller, offers his memoirs from the condemned cell, having murdered six people who stood between him and an earldom he hoped to inherit. Through Israel’s story Horniman explores and parodies the anti-Semitic attitudes of Edwardian England.
‘A superb thriller, but also a disturbing study in human nature. The narrative pace never slackens, thanks to the spareness and elegance of Horniman’s prose… it is a book of its time, quite faithful to it, and (despite its 400 pages) over all too quickly.’ Simon Heffer, in his Preface
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