THE TRIAL OF MARIE BESNARD by Marie Besnard

THE TRIAL OF MARIE BESNARD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sybille Bedford introduces and illumines this story which is, not only in itself, a criminal curiosity (for a period of 12 years Marie Besnard was accused of the murders of 13 members of her family) but emphasizes the importance of bringing in a quick verdict in a criminal investigation so that a false charge does not become the ""effroyable aventure"" it was here. In 1927, Marie Besnard buried her husband of seven years- who died of tuberculos is; in 1947, her second husband Leon Besnard died and his deathbed prediction ""you'll have to defend yourself alone"" was only too terrifyingly true. For first gossip, of her relationship with a German hired hand, then accusations by malignant villagers led to the exhumation of Leon, then her first husband, and then 11 members of his and her family, and all bodies were found to reveal a high arsenical content. The dedicated defense action of two attorneys revealed but took 12 years to prove not only the fallibility of expert testimony, but also the crux of the matter- the arsenic in the soil were the bodies were buried.... A fantastic story to which Marie Besnard's sterling character, sturdy endurance and bons sens populaire is a welcome antidote.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.