The Assize of the Dying (book #4)

This is two novellas by Ellis Peters (pseudonym of Edith Pargeter).

Not a lot to note about them except that they show the author’s characteristic intensity about emotion and what we can know of others. The characters in the title story, like others in her books, leap to intuitive conclusions about people they meet or know. Here’s Judge Manton thinking about his friend Robert, having watched his actions but not spoken to him:

“He thought that Robert had not come with the intention of dying, but he was fairly sure that he had come with the possibility in his mind and with a great indifference to the result. It was not only the guilt for Stevenson; there was also the emptiness where Zoë had been. Above all, he had come because he must know. That was something the Judge understood perfectly … ”

Motives can be complex, but it’s central to Peters’s work that they can be understood, and accurately put into words, by others.

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