Famous Trials: Unwanted Spouses

Famous Trials: Unwanted Spouses


From the legendary Famous Trials series of real-life courtroom dramas, two classic murder trials abridged and refreshed as Penguin Specials for modern readers, selected and introduced by Alex McBride, author of Defending the Guilty

A respectable solicitor in the town of Hay-on-Wye, harried by his troubled wife, slowly and carefully poisons her to death. Pleased with the results, he sees an opportunity for another quick-fix solution and turns his murderous attentions to his business rival...

Trapped in a marriage of convenience to an aging man almost thirty years her senior, thirty-eight year-old Alma falls in love with seventeen year-old George, when he answers her advertisement for a 'willing lad' to do the housework. It's the perfect set up - a well-disposed husband and a passionate lover - until George destroys it all by trying to get the husband out of the way...

These two classic cases of spousal murder - one chillingly domestic, the other bizarre and touching - took place in 1922 and 1935. In these brilliant reconstructions, they continue to confound our expectations of how murderers are meant to proceed.

The legendary Famous Trials series set the benchmark for historical crime writing with its accounts of the most notorious and intriguing criminal trials of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Expertly reconstructed from court transcripts, these often sensational narratives have gripped generations of readers since they first appeared in 1941. In this digital edition, two of the very best Famous Trials have been selected, introduced and further abridged by criminal barrister and author Alex McBride to provide modern readers with the most compelling versions yet of these court-room classics.

Alex McBride is a criminal barrister. His book Defending the Guilty: Truth and Lies in the Criminal Courtroom was shortlisted for the 2010 Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and is available in Penguin. He has written for the Guardian, Independent, Prospect and New Statesman, and has contributed to various BBC programmes, including From Our Own Correspondent.

'Expert, authoritative, hilarious - an insider's fearless account of life at the criminal bar'Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year on Defending the Guilty

About the author

Alex McBride

Alex McBride is a criminal barrister. He is the author of the 'Common Law' column in Prospect magazine and has contributed to the New Statesman and various BBC programmes, including From Our Own Correspondent.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more