The Progress of a Crime


Title: The Progress of a Crime

Writer: Julian Symons

Publishing House: British Library Crime Classics

Date of Publication: September 10th 2020 (first published 1960)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’They went out into the streets of the city where it seemed always to be raining, the soft rain of autumn that made the few cars now moving around the city centre suck and lick out the shiny black roads.’’

A stubbing takes place on Guy Fawkes Night. The bonfire is enough to light the faces of the murderers.

Or is it? 

Two young men are accused of the crime, members of one of the local gangs, formed by children – for that is what they are – who are desperate for someone to listen to them and their needs. The parents’ utter failure to be there for their children becomes the root of a crime that draws the attention of the Press aka. the vultures with pens and cameras instead of claws. But not all of them are the same. A young journalist becomes involved in the case – in more ways than one – and tries to discover the truth.

Julian Symons’s mystery is a powerful, solemn commentary on how family and society can ostracise a person and drive them to crime and madness. This is what isolation and lack of understanding do to the young members of our societies. This is why parents need to take a good, long look into the mirror before they drive their children to despair. This is why teachers need to educate and nurture and stop treating the classroom as a field to exercise our twisted notion of authority over young souls. In Symons’s story, the crime takes a secondary role. What really counts is the psychological impact of being the accused in a secretive community that points the finger without a second thought. 

We witness the machinations of the trial process, the intrigues and calculations of seeking the sensational material for the first page, the battle of Labour VS Tories, two parties that don’t give a fig about the people, and the changes that defined England during the 60s. The beautiful relationship between Jill (I loved her!) and Hugh made this excellent courtroom drama even more striking. And don’t tell me there is no such thing as love at first sight because THERE IS and you are utterly clueless. Pun intended.

Poignant Introduction – as always – by Martin Edwards.