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By Laura Thompson

On 7 November 1974, a nanny named Sandra Rivett used to be bludgeoned to demise in a Belgravia basement. A moment girl, Veronica, Countess of Lucan, used to be additionally attacked. the fellow named in courtroom as culprit of those crimes, Richard John Bingham, seventh Earl of Lucan, disappeared within the early hours of the next morning. The case, solved within the eyes of the legislations, has retained its fascination ever since.

Laura Thompson, acclaimed biographer of Agatha Christie, narrates the tale that led as much as that cataclysmic occasion, and attracts on her huge forensic talents to re-evaluate the potential truths at the back of considered one of postwar Britain's so much infamous murders. a special classification OF homicide is a portrait of an period, of a unprecedented solid of characters, of a secret, of a latest fable. half social background, half detective tale, it tells in masterly type one of many nice stories of our collective residing memory.

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Veronica had established a status quo of her own. By the autumn of 1974, Lord Lucan was despairing of its reversal. He wanted his children and his house, but he could not have these things because they now belonged to Veronica, and there was no money left to dislodge her. In every way, therefore, the scene was becoming set for a classic domestic murder. ‘Lucan’, it would later be said, ‘wanted his life to continue as before, but without his wife. She had to be erased. ’14 The plan, in sum, was this.

Of the handful that were charged, the last was the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who with his hated brother-in-law, the 3rd Earl of Lucan, would later preside over the hundred-plus deaths that occurred during the 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War. Thirteen years earlier, Cardigan had been tried for shooting a fellow officer in a duel. ‘I have hit my man,’ he said. Yet in the House of Lords he was acquitted on a ludicrous technicality: his victim was wrongly named in the indictment, presumably in order to leave a loophole through which Cardigan could slide.

It is an incendiary question, in a country obsessed with class. Why shouldn’t a peer of the realm be a murderer, the same as anybody else? Why not indeed; yet murdering is something that they seldom do. They have slaughtered to achieve advancement, of course, since historically that is how advancement was often achieved. An example: Richard Bingham, a soldier of fortune whose descendants became the Earls of Lucan, defended Ireland for Queen Elizabeth I and earned a knighthood for his savage efficiency.

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