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Punishment - Ferdinand von Schirach


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Punishment is a collection of short stories with a theme of legal cases - mostly homicide. Most have a common factor in a disconnect between the outcome and what we might term 'justice'. 

 

The writer, Ferdinand von Schirach, is a German lawyer and many of the stories revolve around loopholes that allow the perpetrators of the crimes to go unpunished, although sometimes they are punished for things they did not do. Then sometimes we see how these legal quirks pan out. 

 

The final story is a little different and perhaps autobiographical, explaining how a lawyer came to become a writer.

 

I suspect many of these stories occurred to von Schirach as "what if" hypotheticals - looking at a point of criminal law and asking whether, if a very specific set of circumstances arose, it could operate in a way that had not been intended. This could have been dry, it could have felt forced, but the concise and deadpan style of narration allows each case to remain interesting. 

 

I really enjoyed this collection, although, as can happen with themed stories, there is a risk that if you read too many of them in quick succession they start to blend into one. 

 

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Good to see you here, Mister Hg.  I will look out for your book reviews, they are always interesting.

I have often been temped to read a particular book  on the basis of your review.  Or was until the list got longer than I could catch up with!

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This sounds like a really intriguing concept. I would be worried that, given the theme, the stories might end up feeling quite unsatisfying though? After all, we generally don't know beforehand whether the criminal will 'get away with it' or not when we start a story!

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