About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Greenwood by Michael Christie

(29. - 1054.) Greenwood by Michael Christie - In 2038 seekers of the experience of trees come to the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral on an island off the coast of British Columbia. A “Great Withering” has killed most of the world’s trees. Great dust storms have caused economic havoc and rib retch, a virulent new strain of tuberculosis, which is killing untold numbers of children. The seekers, known as “Pilgrims”, are wealthy world citizens who have isolated themselves from the wretched masses of poor people. Canada known as water rich and tree rich is a refuge for the rich.

The signature tree on the island is a Douglas Fir. It is 1200 years old and rises 230 feet high into the sky to touch the clouds.

Forest Guide, Jake Greenwood, has a Ph.D in dendrology (botany specializing in trees) from the University of Utrecht . She was a child prodigy in her knowledge of trees. While taking Pilgrims around the island she notices a pair of ancient firs have some patches of browned needles and areas of spongy bark. Has the Withering come to the island? She takes specimens to study.

Abruptly we are taken back to 2008 to the life of Jake’s father, Liam Greenwood, (a man she never knew) who after a bizarre upbringing (his mother gave him marijuana at 13)  has established a business renovating homes with reclaimed wood (old barns are a source).

His special talent involves “book matched” boards:

…. Taking two successive slabs sawn from the same log, and then attaching the nearly identical pieces side by side, in mirror image, creating the almost uncanny effect of the spread pages of an open book ….. After he’s joined the live-edged planks with butterfly keys and applied numerous applications of tung oil and two coats of polyurethane, the wood’s unique figuring, burl, and honey-tinged grain pulse with life, like a solar system that has been frozen for centuries within the wood and is only now being revealed.

He is an artist in wood.

The book moves back further to 1974 when Jake’s mother, Willow Greenwood, is becoming an eco warrior or terrorist depending on your perspective.

The book goes even further back to 1934 when Jake’s grandfather, Harris Greenwood, a lumber baron, is surviving the Great Depression and her great-uncle, Everett Greenwood, is living a simple existence in the woods of New Brunswick.

Despite great wealth Harris is a lonely man. He creates a unique position. Harris. Blind, he seeks out:

… a visual assistant … Someone to illuminate his dealings, energize his spirit, brighten his days with well-chosen words of observation, and brighten his nights with readings of the finest literature. A describer. At this juncture of his long, solitary life, Harris Greenwood is weary of darkness.

The concept of such a position captivated me. Greenwood hires Liam Feeney, an Irish logger/poet.

Feeney conjures up magnficient descriptions. As they leave British Columbia on a ship for Japan Feeney describes a forest:

“Fog seeps between the brindle stalks,” Feeney begins, “and the sun, hooded with sea-borne mist, burns among the striving arms of branches …..”

Greenwood pays his describer very well.

At the same time Everett is tapping maple trees to make enough syrup to sustain his life.

The participants in this part of the story illustrate how Christie fully develops his characters. Even characters who may be in the book for but a few pages are well described. Examples include the industralist, R.J. Holt, who dominates the economy of the province of New Brunswick  and his young mistress placed in seclusion to deliver his child and his huge brutish enforcer / aide, Harvey Lomax, who has 7 children.

Everett finds the baby hanging on one of his trees and flees New Brunswick pursued by the enforcer.

And the book then goes yet further back to 1908 when two boys of about 9 are found after a train crash in Eastern Ontario. Unable to identify them, the villagers call them Harris and Everett. With no one willing to parent they exist on their own in a shack on a woodlot with doubtful provisions from the widowed Mrs. Craig. 

The orphans are dubbed Greenwood. Thus the family name was chosen from the trees with which generations of Greenwoods over the next century would be obssesed. All of them have a grand passion for trees yet each is so different in their passion.

As the book gradually works back through the 20th Century and into the 21st Century there is an epic journey across Canada. The unease and tension building in that trip provoked an anxiety for the characters I have seldom experienced in my reading life.

Everett spends time in 1934 upon a farm on the edge of Estevan here in Saskatchewan. It is in the prairie part of the province most sorely afflicted by the drought of the 1930’s. While the Dirty Thirties were a grim time for farming everywhere in Saskatchewan, on the prairie as a region without wild trees, except in scattered valleys, it was hard for even the planted trees to survive.

At the end we are back in 2038 with Jake facing a difficult personal future and the future of the earth at peril. Could it really be that all the trees of the planet will be lost? I hoped the ending would see a good future for her and earth. I like to hope for fictional characters. 

It is hard to describe the rich lush writing that winds through decades of fascinating characters. I found I needed to read it over a period of a couple of weeks of modest pages per day so I could absorb each revelation and shift in the plot. The Greenwood lives are difficult. They are a self-destructive clan. While all lives have challenges the Greenwood’s have less joy than most and a scarcity of loving relationships.

Christie describes the aching consequences of an injured heart:

“.... So know this, your father loved you with everything he had. He just didn’t have much left.”

I rarely venture into the future, especially the future of great disasters. I acquired Greenwood as it was on the shortlist for the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. I am even more unlikely to enjoy such fiction but Greenwood is so unsettling, compelling, even enthralling. And, as we live amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, it feels uncomfortably real. Upon reading the book I understand why it won the Arthur Ellis Award. Greenwood is far from conventional crime fiction but it is great literature.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The trial of Freddie de Marigny for the Murder of Harry Oates

In my previous post on Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray I discussed the dramatic life and death of Sir Harry Oakes. This post deals with the trial of “Count” Marie Alfred Fonquereaux de Marigny better known as Freddie for the murder of Sir Harry Oakes. The trial opens with a dramatic oration by Crown counsel, Alfred Adderly:

“Murder is murder, and a life is a life,” Adderly boomed at the jury, “but this murder is, as Shakespeare, the immortal Bard, says in on eof his sonnets, ‘as black as hell and as dark as night,’” Erle Stanley Gardner was enthralled, describing the Crown counsel’s address as “masterly …. As able a courtroom speech as I have ever heard.”

De Marigny was well represented by Godfrey Higgs and Ernest Callender. While they had limited experience in criminal defence they crushed the American “experts”.

Lead Crown witness, Harold Christie, emphasized his friendship with Oakes and stated that when Sir Harry was in the Bahamas they spent about half of their time together. He could not explain not why “the cries of his best friend, bludgeoned and set on fire only twenty-five meters away, has not disturbed his sleep”. I think twenty-five meters can be quite a distance when someone is sleeping.

More difficult to accept was Christie’s assertion that his long time friend, Captain Sears, erred in stating he saw Christie being driven through Nassau about midnight by a white man.

Christie fared poorly under vigorous and skeptical cross-examination by Higgs for stating he thought the badly beaten and partially burned Sir Harry was alive and then wiping his face and giving him water. He had no explanation for bloody handprints on the doors of his bedroom.

Gray says it was “an almost open secret that Christie, a bachelor, was having an affair with Effie Heeneage”. Christie denied a rumour he was shielding “a lady” in his evidence. Even if he were “protecting” her honour by not revealing he had gone west that night to her home, which would have been a great alibi, there was no reason for him to drive east to Nassau.

The deterioration of the Crown’s case accelerated with Captain Melchen who, after stoutly maintaining at the preliminary, that he had never taken de Marigny upstairs before his colleague searched for fingerprints now stated he was mistaken. He undoubtedly recognized his mistake because 4 witnesses said he had taken de Marigny upstairs.

Far more damaging were his admissions that Captain Barker had not told him he found de Marigny’s fingerprints in the room on a Chinese screen until 11 days into their investigation and that the reveal was while they were interviewing Lady Oakes in Maine.

His credibility ceased when he “suddenly ‘remembered’” on a return to the witness stand that Barker had mentioned earlier in the investigation  “that he thought one of the prints belonged to the accused”.

Barker fared worse.

The pivotal evidence for the Crown was a fingerprint of de Marigny allegedly found on a Chinese screen in Sir Harry’s bedroom.

The case was over when Barker “had to admit he had not photographed the print on the screen because he had not brought the appropriate camera with him from Miami. He aslo had to admit that, since the screen was easily moved, it hadn’t been necessary to ‘lift’ the prints off the screen anyway; he could have taken the whole screen to a facility with the right equipment”.

Higgs further savaged Barker. The detective acknowledged there was an interview with de Marigny that took place before the print was allegedly found. Barker could not explain 3 circles on the photo of the print. Higgs closed by submitting to Barker that he and Melchen had fabricated evidence for “personal gain and notoriety”. Barker’s emphatic denial could only be unconvincing. 

De Marigny and his counsel were brave men in asserting fabrication. If they did not have convincing evidence and the jury were to view the allegations as unfounded, de Marigny was headed for the scaffold.

While I see the Crown case as weak de Marigny and his defence counsel decided to have him testify to provide his narrative. I thought there was considerable risk as de Marigny was disliked by many in the Bahamas. Gray has no analysis of the decision to testify. I discussed the perils of the accused going into the witness box in my reviews of The Last Trial by Scott Turow. I acknowledge that I usually believe it is best for the accused to testify before a jury.

Undoubtedly the main reason for his testimony was to set up the fabrication defence by describing the interview where the Miami officers arranged for de Marigny to hold a water glass and a pack of cigarettes.

On cross de Marigny had to admit his failed marriages, his receipt of large sums of money from women, his dishonesty with at least one spouse and his marriage to the much younger Nancy barely after her 18th birthday without the knowledge of her parents.

The Crown could not shake his evidence he was at home when Sir Harry was murdered.

And then, in a brilliant demonstration of demonstrative evidence, when the defence called their own expert witness who had the foreman of the jury put his finger on a glass cigarette case containing “a pattern of circles”. When the expert dusted and lifted the print the “lift showed the circles as well as the print”.

As in my recent reviews of The Baccarat Case the trial judge summed up in favour of the defence while stating it was entirely their decision:

Daly’s assurances were sly, to put it mildly, since he went on to explain that the Crown case was deeply flawed. He described Captain Barker’s failure to follow accepted practice for fingerprint evidence as “incomprehensible” and characterized Captain Melchen’s admission that he didn’t know about the fingerprint evidence until he heard Barker describe it to Lady Oakes as “extraordinary”. Although the judge cautioned that there was no evidence the two Florida detectives had fabricated evidence, he suggested that both the police evidence and the expert evidence should be treated skeptically. Sir Oscar also deplored the mistakes and contradictions offered by the Nassau police witnesses  and hoped that a thorough departmental investigation would be held. The jury must decide whether the police “were trying to make the facts fit their theories.

I was surprised to learn the jury had to be unanimous for a guilty verdict but needed but two-thirds for a not guilty decision.

The jury did find de Marigny not guilty by a 9-3 margin but added the gratuitous comment that he should be immediately deported. Consistent in “ill-advised decisions” (see my previous post) the Duke of Windsor, Governor of the Bahamas, supported deportation. The request was “summarily refused” by Westminister officials.

The de Marigny’s do not stay long in the Bahamas. They are soon off to Cuba to stay with Ernest Hemingway. Within a year they separated.

Gray conducts a brisk narrative. She is never lost in details. I do wish she had spent more time upon the trial. Her compression of the evidence did not do justice to the trial. While she avoids a lengthy depiction of the trial she has a multi-chapter review of  the decades of books speculating on who killed Sir Harry. I would have preferred more assessment of the trial and less discussion of the oft bizarre decades of speculation.

Gray includes an anecdote in which the irrepressible Diana Mosley, formerly Mitford, whose father had briefly prospected for gold near Sir Harry’s claims asked Harold Christie at a dinner party to tell the assembled how he killed Harry Oakes. Mosley spoke of getting a “tired smile”.

In the opening of my last post on the book I expressed my interest in reading the book to get Gray’s opinion on who killed Sir Harry. Alas, I was as disappointed in Gray as I was in the book by Eric Minns. Neither has a preferred killer. In my post, a link is below, I thought, and still think, that the killer was Harold Christie.

What struck me in reading Murdered Midas and Gray’s chapters on Gray’s recounting of the many writers who have theorized on the killer is that no one has ever done a detailed exploration of the financial dealings between Oates and Christie. Focusing attention on de Marigny meant there was no examination by either the Miami policemen or Bahamian police. It would have been hard slogging for subsequent writers but I believe public records, including estate particulars, could be revealing on the status of their financial relationship at Sir Harry’s death and the rumours of Christie being in default on loans made to him by Sir Harry. Did Christie benefit from Sir Harry’s death?

Gray, Charlotte - (2020) - Murdered Midas (A Millionaire, His Gold Mine and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray

(30. - 1055.) Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray (A Millionaire, His Gold Mine, and a Strange Death on an Island Paradise) - Murdered Midas won the 2020 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Non-Fiction. While interested in reading the winning book I was more drawn to the book as I wanted to know who Gray thought murdered Sir Harry. In 2014 I read Who Killed Sir Harry by Eric Minns. While titled a novel it was more a non-fiction recounting of Sir Harry’s death and the subsequent trial of his son-in-law, Count Alfred de Marigny, for murder. While Who Killed Sir Harry was not a well written book I was fascinated with the murder and trial. I wrote a post on who I thought had killed Sir Harry.

Murdered Midas opens with Harry Oates, 37 years old, and still searching for his big strike. For over 15 years he has pursued gold in the Klondike, Australia and California. His methodical approach to prospecting has yet to be successful. Gray recounts how most prospectors find silver or gold by luck.

Gray provides a vivid picture of the rough tough prospecting days of the first decade of the 20th Century in northern Ontario. The first rush was for silver. Millions of ounces of silver were mined. Oakes arrived shortly after the second rush for gold was underway. 

He climbs off the train in 1911 at the community of Swastika (The Nazi adoption of the symbol was decades into the future.)

Swastika was the closest town on the railway to Kirkland Lake. Oakes, while broke by the time he arrived, had studied government information on claims in the area and the rock formations. He thought the significant amount of porphyry indicated gold. As the whole area was staked he waited to re-file some claims that were expiring because the original prospectors had not developed them.

Determining which claims he wanted to re-file was hard work:

…. Working thigh-deep in mukeg and bogs, and sleeping in either his tent or one of three lean-to shelters he had fashioned out of sacks and sticks.

On a frigid night, as low as -50, Oakes and the Tough brothers re-stake claims adjacent to Kirkland Lake. Oates had developed a theory that gold veins in the area ran under lakes.

Oates has been raising money from his family in Maine for over two decades and they stake him again. In true Hollywood timing, down to his last dollars he orders his men to dig deep under Kirkland Lake where they find the vein of gold 12 metres deep that will fund his fortune. It is 1916 and the 42 year old prospector has found his strike.

Determined to develop, not sell the claims he works hard to generate the investments that allow him to build the Lake Shore Mine. Retaining almost 50% of the shares he becomes immensely wealthy. 

In the 1920’s he marries a lovely Australian woman, Eunice, whom he had met on a ship bound for South Africa. They have 5 children.

Angry over changes to Canada’s tax laws in the 1930’s he considers punitive he leaves for the Florida where he will pay less income tax.

He is lured from America to the Bahamas where he will pay no personal income tax. Harold Christie, a great real estate promoter, convinces Oakes of the opportunities as well as the tax freedom of the Bahamas. After the arrival of Oakes on the island of New Providence Christie sells him vast areas of island real estate.

Oakes has little patience with the colonial elite of Nassau. He goes to work on his lands with the zeal he had as a prospector. Occasionally he personally takes command of his bulldozer. The boredom of his days after developing the Lakeshore Mine is gone.

By the start of WW II he owns a huge amount of land on New Providence but he is having to weigh his expenditures as dividends have been in decline for some years as ore production declines at the mine.

The Duke of Windsor and his wife, Wallis Simpson, appointed as Governor of the Bahamas in 1940 are eagerly embraced by white society. They have fame. No couple was better known in the world. While their presence, especially the Duke, is inevitable in any biography of Oakes the Duke and Duchess did not have a major part in the life of the Oakes family. (As will be discussed as part of my next post the Duke had an important role after the death of Sir Harry.) While their official residence was being rebuilt Oakes generously provides the couple with one of his homes. In return the Royals bring disdain. The Duchess  disparaged the lovely Westbourne as “a shack by the sea”.

There is turmoil in the Oakes famiy from the marriage in 1942 between “Count” Marie Alfred Fonquereaux de Marigny and Nancy Oates, two days after her 18th birthday. He was almost twice her age. Sir Harry and Fredddie were soon in conflict.

On the stormy night of July 7, 1943 Sir Harry is murdered in his bed at Westbourne by being struck with a hammer. An effort is made to burn the body. De Marigny had driven by Westbourne well after midnight taking a pair of young women home.

The next morning, Christie, who had stayed overnight, discovers the body when he goes to wake Sir Harry. He handles the body saying it is still warm. He tries to give Sir Harry water believing he is alive.

Gray deftly describes the reaction of the Duke:

When the Duke of Windsor heard the news of Harry’s death, he made an instant decision that, in retrospect, was unwise - the latest in a lifetime of ill-advised decisions by the former king. Assuming that the case was byond the capacity of Nassau’s police resources (four officers and 140 constables), he looked elsewhere for help.

Instead of Scotland Yard or the FBI the Duke, having recently met Captain Edward Melchen of the Miami Police Department and found him “to be a very good fellow” he asks the Miami Chief to send Melchen to the Bahamas. Captain James Barker accompanies him.

That morning government officials, police and members of the public visited the crime scene leaving it hopelessly contaminated.

The Miami police swiftly concluded de Marigny was the killer and he is indicted. The Bahamian establishment is more than content with the outsider being charged. 

(My next post covers the trial.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Uncle Hugo's and Uncle Edgar's - A Bookstore Burned by Rioters

A photo I believe of the burning Uncle Hugo's
and Uncle Edgar's
A few weeks ago I watched on television and the internet the protests arising from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was a shocking wrongful death that was far away from me. Downtown Minneapolis is exactly 1,600 kilometers from Melfort. When riots erupted and buildings were burned and stores looted I was upset over the destruction and lawlessness yet it was still distant for me. Events became personal when I read that the building housing Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s bookstore had been burned. I had visited Uncle Edgar’s on every trip I made to Minneapolis in recent years. There are posts on the blog about Uncle Edgar’s in the page on mystery bookstores.

Rational or not I think it is human nature to feel more deeply events to which you feel a connection. The burning of Uncle Edgar’s made me angry. I doubt it was targeted. It is hard to see how a business selling science fiction and crime fiction could cause offence. I expect it was a mindless act of arson.

Burning a bookstore is an attack upon knowledge. The stores contained thousands and thousands of books. I know they were fiction but they contained stories that enlighten, inform, entertain, even challenge readers.

I consider our society diminished whenever a bookstore closes. When the loss is due to arson the destroyed books make the loss greater.

I condemn the violence that included the burning of Uncle Edgar’s and Uncle Hugo’s. Society does not move ahead because of such violence. The advances in human rights during my lifetime have come from the actions of legislators and court judgments.

I believe violent acts such as the arson in Minneapolis provoke reactions that make change harder. 

Owner Don Blyly says he was told there was video on the internet of a white guy in a mask setting the fire.

There are several clips on YouTube of arrests for arsonists in Minneapolis. I have yet to read that any of them are charged with burning the bookstore.

The American ATF of the federal government said it is investigating over 150 fires in the Twin Cities.

Don describes what happened in a message he sent out after the fire:

There was a call from the security company around 3:30 this morning that the motion detector was somebody in the building. I threw on clothes and headed over there. When I was 2 blocks away I received a call that the smoke detectors were showing smoke in the store. Every single building on both sides of Chicago was blazing and dozens of people dancing around. As I pulled into the dentist’s lot I could see that flames were leaping out of the front windows on the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window. It looked hopeless to me, but I went around to the back door to see if could get to a fire extinguisher. As soon as I opened the back door a wave of very thick black smoke poured out, so I quickly closed the door again.

More particulars are available on the website for the stores.

I have spent my life working to uphold the Rule of Law. As a defence counsel representing those charged with offences I seek to have the laws of our province and country justly applied. Rioters and arsonists challenge the Rule of Law. I hope the arsonist or arsonists are soon caught and tried and punished.

For Don the financial loss was huge. He has advised that he is eligible for insurance. He is not sure if he will rebuild. I hope he will find the will and resources to have a new Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.

Rather than just be angry I have decided I want to help Don. His son, Sam, has started a GoFundMe page. A link is at the end of this post. To date almost $150,000 has been raised.

The conflicting emotions Don is experiencing are set out in links on the GoFundMe page.

I hope my modest donation and the contributions of 2,500 other readers will convince Don to open a new store. It would be a powerful example of determination and faith in the future. I believe books are important to the future of all peoples and nations.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley Finished

In my previous post I started a review of The Second Oldest Profession by Phillip Knightley concerning espionage in the 20th Century. This post will contain thoughts on the period after the end of WW II.

Knightley spends a significant amount of time exploring the CIA of the Cold War. He minimizes its successful operations and maximizes its failures. He is more convincing when he deflates the image of the CIA as a pivotal player in world changes through the 1950’s and 1960’s.
He notes the CIA quickly became pre-occupied with the excitement of covert operations at th expense of gathering and assessing the information collected. For all the money invested in the CIA it failed to know the U.S.S.R. had succeeded in building atomic bombs until the first bomb exploded in Kazahkistan in 1949. It equally failed to detect that North Korea was about to invade South Korea in 1950.

Knightley’s downplaying of the importance of intelligence generally is reflected in his faint praise for Russian spy, Klaus Fuchs, who passed on to the Russians important information on the atomic bomb:

As to Fuchs’s value to the Russians, Holloway (an American professor of history) cannot reach a positive conclusion. He says Fuchs did provided potentially useful information. Some of this the Soviet scientists already knew, o else they would have discovered it: ‘But I thin, it is hard to dismiss it as worthless, especially as it gave the Soviet authorities some indication of what the Americans were up to. The estimates I have (from scientists who worked with Fuchs) suggest that he might have saved the Russians as much as a year or eighteen months in building the atomic bomb.’

Knightley criticizes the “sick think”, an obsession with moles that deeply hampered American and British Intelligence agencies in the 1960’s. At the same time he is consumed with focusing on evidence that supports his negative views of those agencies. It is hard to find a competent spy in the book.

Published in 1986 The Second Oldest Profession has not a hint of the impending demise of Communism in Europe. There is a reference at the end of the book on the curious fact of greater number of articles on "spies" in The Washington Post during the period of decreased tension in the Cold War from 1977 to 1985. Knightley extrapolates that bit of data to intelligence agencies finding means to publicize the need for their existence.

Yet there is no indication East Germany is failing as a state in the book and that the Wall will come down in 3 years. There is nothing to lead a reader to think that the U.S.S.R. will disintegrate in 5 years. There is no reason to think Knightley should have had a talent for foreseeing the future. At the same time he was an astute observer of nations and did not detect the coming collapse in Eastern Europe.

What the book did for me was to cause reflection on intelligence agencies 34 years after publication. Are they worth the vast sums expended? Knightley argues public information, diplomatic communications and direct contacts with the leadership of other nations are more effective in determining what other countries are doing and their intentions.

If there is an area Knightley downplays it is the challenge of getting governments to listen to analysis they do not want to hear. The reasons may be political, historical, ideological or personal.

He describes how England was surprised by the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in the early 1980’s because the British government, despite warnings from its intelligence agencies, did not believe Argentina would take military action. They thought the Junta was bluffing.

He does not discuss the Argentine belief that Great Britain would not go to war over the Falklands. 

On each side there was a failure of interpretation of intelligence because they did not want to believe the other country would go to war.

His exploration of governments rejecting intelligence that does not accord with the beliefs of a government needs no further analysis on its relevancy today than waiting for tonight’s tweets from Washington.

As we go forward in a world in which the noise of massive amounts of daily information flowing electronically it is ever more challenging for intelligence agencies.

I fear our current leaders are no better than those of the 20th Century at deciding what to do with the intelligence they get from the multitude of agencies using up the alphabet with their acronyms. 

Knightley’s prose is brisk and his narratives well told. He is confident in his analysis. He is not reluctant, even eager to give his opinions. Not for him careful academic conclusions.

Ultimately, reading the book led me to believe there was a singular lack of “intelligence” in the intelligence agencies of the world and the political leaders considering the information gathered.

I usually do not read blurbs but the cover of my copy of the book contained a brilliant blurb by a great writer who had been an intelligence officer:

“If Reagan, Gorbachev, Thatcher and Mitterand only manage one book this year, the could a lot worse than pick up Phillip Knightley’s and discover what imbecilities are committed in the hallowed name of intelligence.” - John le CarrĂ©

(The blurb actually appears on the image of the book at the top of my first post on the book.)
Knightley, Phillip - (2020) - The Second Oldest Profession - Begun