2 July 2009

Forgotten Book: THE CHALK PIT MURDER, Edgar Lustgarten

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.
This book is in my records from 1980.

It was published in 1974. Edgar Lustgarten (1907-1978) was a British broadcaster and crime writer, who wrote some crime fiction, but most were accounts of true-life criminal cases.

The Chalk Pit murder was the case of Thomas John Ley, an Australian politician who was convicted of murder in England. From 1922-25 Ley was Minister of Justice in New South Wales, and became known as the Hanging Minister because of his enthusiasm for the death penalty.
Here is the account of the Chalk Pit Murder from Wikipedia:

In 1946 Ley's mistress, Maggie Brooke, was living in Wimbledon, and Ley had his house at 5 Beaufort Gardens, London, converted into flats. Ley imagined that Brook and a barman called John McMain Mudie were lovers. Ley persuaded two of his labourers that Mudie was a blackmailer, and together they tortured and killed him. The case became known as the "Chalk-pit Murder" because Mudie's body was dumped in a Surrey chalkpit.

With Lawrence John Smith, Ley was tried at the Old Bailey, and both were sentenced to death in March 1947. However, both Smith and Ley escaped the noose; Smith's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and Ley was declared insane and sent to Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane and died soon after. He is said to have been the wealthiest person ever sent there.

Who remembers Edgar Lustgarten? CLEWS does.

Edgar Marcus Lustgarten was a barrister (that’s British for trial lawyer) whose true crime stories for CBS, CBC, BBC, ABC, and their Australian counterparts ruled all kinds of airwaves in the 1950s. His TV series included “Scales of Justice” and “Scotland Yard,” while his most famous radio show was “Advocate Extraordinary.” He was also a syndicated columnist for the London Express Service. His short pieces appeared in newspapers across the globe.

Abe Books has several copies available.

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