Verdict of Twelve - Raymond Postgate
Some parts of this is quite dated and some of the attitudes, particularly to some of the female characters, but it is of it's period. Published in 1940 this is an interesting twist on a courtroom drama. It's divided into four parts. First we're introduced to the Jury, then the case is laid out, then the trial and verdict and then, finally the story is wrapped up in a short postscript (7 pages).
The pen pictures of the various jurors was interesting and it did feed into the attitudes of each juror to the situation and to the case, no-one of them is truly neutral and it does point out how the hope that 12 people can't always be without an opinion about almost every situation.
The mystery is about a young boy, Philip Arkwright who is an orphan and in care of his aunt, .Rosalie van Beer. His family are monied and she wasn't really part of the family, being only married to one of the younger sons for a short while before he dies in the First World War. She had retreated into drink until she realises that she's the boy's only remaining relative. She treats him as an invalid and it's hard to know how many of his issues are created and how many are inherent. He has several tutors and a doctor that's not at the prime of his career. He's also known to have a "sensitive stomach" so when he reacts to something he eats no-one is surprised, when he dies they are. Poison is suspected and the main suspect is his aunt.
Of course today there would be more forensics but there was a fair amount here and there was a lot of messy lives being lived. Rosalie isn't a sympathetic character and I wasn't sure throughout what had happened. Still it was an interesting look at life in the period. There was a lot of snobbery on the part of a lot of the characters throughout and assumptions.
Very satisfying read.