Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Murder of Alan Grebell

Non-fiction ~ essay
First published in The Spectator, 18th November 1932¹
1,250 words
(First read 24/06/2014)

In his capacity as Mayor of Tilling Rye and spinner of unlikely yarns, EFB recounts the grim story of the town's most notorious, blunderous, and ever-so-faintly-humorous, murder: that of local big cheese Alan Grebell by the butcher John Breeds, in 1742.  Breeds, in the manner so typical of 18th-century killers, was knocked off his trolley by something-and-nothing: the mayor had fined him for selling meat at short weight.  That mayor ~ the intended victim ~ was none other than James Lamb, owner of the famous Lamb House in which Benson (amongst others²) lived.  The tale is constructed of plot contrivances such as impenetrable fog, and improbabilities such as the victim dying without even realizing he's been murdered, but, unlike the overwhelming majority of the author's own similarly themed stories, it rings absolutely true ~ well, it is true.  Still, Fred tells it with great relish.
You can read it online here.

¹ The article was collected in Sea Mist: Collected Spook Stories Volume 5 (2005).
² Elizabeth Mapp, Henry James, Emmeline Lucas, no doubt a whole herd of other terrifying old women.

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