KING'S X: Common Law and the Death of Sir Harry Oakes by Marshall Houts

KING'S X: Common Law and the Death of Sir Harry Oakes

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The 1943 murder of Sir Harry Oakes remains one of those chimeras primarily because it is still unsolved and the publisher description here -- ""Now, nearly 30 years later, the nature of the murder is revealed"" -- is misleading, What Houts has done -- he's a veteran exponent of courtroom procedures -- is to re-run the trial concentrating on the forensic evidence and stressing the importance of upholding Common Law which he now finds so threatened (the older obverse Civil Law leads to totalitarian takeovers of one kind or another -- today, particularly, the Mafia's). Geoffrey Bocca some years ago did a far more interesting resume of this story at the popular level telling much more about Sir Harry, an ugly type to begin with even if he did end up the richest baronet in the British Empire, and speculating (Houts permits the conjecture to still hover) that it was a ""mutilation gangland killing."" Whether it was or not, Oakes' son-in-law was brought to trial but never convicted on the basis of the inconclusive Exhibit J (fingerprints) and Houts concludes his own reexamination with a review of what is wrong with our current police and courtroom procedures and what should be done to counteract their ""asphyxia."" You'll find yourself nodding -- more than just assent.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1972
Publisher: Morrow