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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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