Stalemate by Alan Hamilton

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Stalemate by Alan Hamilton

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An elegant reworking of the unsolved Wallace case from 1930. Even though I knew what was going to happen I still couldn't put the book down. Highly recommended. Alan Hamilton popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 300 Date: July 2014
Publisher: Silverwood Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781322048

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In the summer of 1930 Walter Bruce was told that he had an incurable illness. With nursing care and an easier job he might have a few more years to live - but without them he had a matter of months. The solution would seem straightforward but Bruce had a wife - and she demanded to be kept and was far too selfish to be his nurse. Life might have continued much as it was, but Bruce discovered that his wife had been deceiving him about her age and background - and with two of his business colleagues. The solution was obvious: he would devise the perfect murder and then live out his final years in comfort. Bruce was a chess player and he approached the problem much as he would a game of chess - but even the best plans rarely survive contact with reality.

I've long been an avid reader of true crime but will admit to a niggling dissatisfaction with unsolved cases and one of these is the case of William Herbert Wallace who returned to his home in Anfield, Liverpool after being called away to what turned out to be an incorrect address, to find that his wife had been brutally murdered. Over the intervening eighty and more years the case has been written about and reconstructed many times and in several different forms, with - perhaps - just the balance of those 'investigating' concluding that Wallace was innocent. Stalemate is an elegant reworking of the case which begins with the premise that not only was Bruce (Wallace) guilty but that the murder was planned in fiendish detail beforehand.

Look - I knew the outcome from very early on in the book. It stays true to the well-known facts of the Wallace case and I was confident enough of the author to know that he wouldn't require me to suspend disbelief. I sensed that he would have no need to as the background had been painstakingly researched to the point where he simply knew it so well that he had no need to shoehorn in every last scrap of knowledge or, at the other end of the scale, to go off at a tangent. And yet - knowing what was going to happen - I still couldn't put the book down. I held my breath through trials (literal and metaphorical) and found that I cared about Bruce.

I really can't find anything to criticise in the book. It's a fictionalised retelling of history which doesn't pretend to be the solution to the puzzle but which is nevertheless very satisfying to someone with an interest in true crime. Characterisation is excellent. The book is dominated by Bruce, who keeps his emotions in close check but towards the end of the book I found myself caring about what happened to him. As a bonus there's an excellent evocation of Liverpool between the wars. Great stuff, Mr Hamilton. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think that you'll also enjoy A Very British Murder: the Story of a National Obsession by Lucy Worsley. You might also appreciate Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste.

You can read more about Alan Hamilton here.

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You can also buy the book at Silverwood Books.

Buy Stalemate by Alan Hamilton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stalemate by Alan Hamilton at

Bookinterviews.jpg Alan Hamilton was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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