Michael Gilbert was never afraid in his stories to attack unnecessary and pettifogging bureaucracy, not to cover up the seedier side of the law, or fail to show that justice does not always prevail. Nonetheless, this was always done with his hallmark wit and dry humour, and the general themes can be found in ’Stay of Execution and Other Stories of Legal Practice’. ‘Back on the Shelf’, in which less than scrupulous lawyers get away with it, is regarded as a classic. Stories in this collection also feature Henry Bohun, who will be familiar to Gilbert readers from the novel ‘Smallbone Deceased’ and also other short story collections.
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Born in Lincolnshire, England, Michael Francis Gilbert graduated in law from the University of London in 1937, shortly after which he first spent some time teaching at a prep-school which was followed by six years serving with the Royal Horse Artillery. During World War II he was captured following service in North Africa and Italy, and his prisoner-of-war experiences later leading to the writing of the acclaimed novel 'Death in Captivity' in 1952. After the war, Gilbert worked as a solicitor in London, but his writing continued throughout his legal career and in addition to novels he wrote stage plays and scripts for radio and television. He is, however, best remembered for his novels, which have been described as witty and meticulously-plotted espionage and police procedural thrillers, but which exemplify realism. HRF Keating stated that 'Smallbone Deceased' was amongst the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published. "The plot," wrote Keating, "is in every way as good as those of Agatha Christie at her best: as neatly dovetailed, as inherently complex yet retaining a decent credibility, and as full of cunningly-suggested red herrings." It featured Chief Inspector Hazlerigg, who went on to appear in later novels and short stories, and another series was built around Patrick Petrella, a London based police constable (later promoted) who was fluent in four languages and had a love for both poetry and fine wine. Other memorable characters around which Gilbert built stories included Calder and Behrens. They are elderly but quite amiable agents, who are nonetheless ruthless and prepared to take on tasks too much at the dirty end of the business for their younger colleagues. They are brought out of retirement periodically upon receiving a bank statement containing a code. Much of Michael Gilbert's writing was done on the train as he travelled from home to his office in London: "I always take a latish train to work," he explained in 1980, "and, of course, I go first class. I have no trouble in writing because I prepare a thorough synopsis beforehand.". After retirement from the law, however, he nevertheless continued and also reviewed for 'The Daily Telegraph', as well as editing 'The Oxford Book of Legal Anecdotes'. Gilbert was appointed CBE in 1980. Generally regarded as 'one of the elder statesmen of the British crime writing fraternity', he was a founder-member of the British Crime Writers' Association and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the Mys
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Book Description Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1971. Hardcover. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: very good. First printing. First edition, 1978. Cloth hardcover in dust jacket, 224 pp., clean unmarked text, Near Fine copy in Very Good price-clipped dust jacket, a bit of discoloration to the page-edges, soiling and discoloration to the dust jacket, dust jacket with some wear including a thin scrape-mark to rear panel and a few closed tears. Dust jacket housed in archival dust jacket protector. Bookseller Inventory # s00012213
Book Description Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1971. Book Condition: Near Very Good. Slightly cocked. Top corner first endpaper clipped. Boards and interior very clean. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. Moderate edgewear. Not clipped. Bookseller Inventory # 001273
Book Description Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1971. Book Condition: Near Very Good. Light foxing edges. Boards and interior very clean. Dust Jacket Condition: Good Some edgewear with couple of small tears top edge. Clipped. Bookseller Inventory # 0236824