George V. Reilly

Review: The Bugles Blowing

The Bugles Blowing
Title: The Bugles Blowing
Author: Nicolas Freeling
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Vintage
Copyright: 1975
Pages: 261
Keywords: crime
Reading period: 20–28 January, 2016

The President of France must decide whether to commute a death sentence. A senior civil servant, finding both his wife and his daughter in flagrante delicto with an artist, shot them all dead. Inspector Henri Castang, the in­ves­ti­gat­ing officer, is summoned to the Élysée Palace. There is no doubt as to the accused’s guilt. He admits it and seems to welcome the death sentence.

Freeling’s novel examines the French judicial system. We’ve all heard that the Napoleonic Code says that a man is presumed guilty until proven innocent, but in fact, under the French criminal code, there’s a strong pre­sump­tion of innocence. For those of us who are more ac­cus­tomed—from movies, television, and books— to the Anglo-American court system, it’s an in­ter­est­ing insight into how things were done in France 40 years ago.

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