Home » Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look At Hangmen, Headsmen, And Their Kind by Howard Engel
Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look At Hangmen, Headsmen, And Their Kind Howard Engel

Lord High Executioner: An Unashamed Look At Hangmen, Headsmen, And Their Kind

Howard Engel

Published
ISBN : 9781861050960
Hardcover
256 pages
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 About the Book 

Hangmen and headsmen have been in the back of our minds for years, writes Howard Engel in Lord High Executioner. They are the bogeymen of our worst nightmares, the shape of our darkest fears. And yet what a fascinating and entertaining group ofMoreHangmen and headsmen have been in the back of our minds for years, writes Howard Engel in Lord High Executioner. They are the bogeymen of our worst nightmares, the shape of our darkest fears. And yet what a fascinating and entertaining group of folks they actually turn out to be, at least in Engels lively historical account of death--by hanging, drowning, burning, beheading, electrocution, and other more exotic means. Engel of course authored the famous Benny Cooperman mysteries, and for that series won the Arthur Ellis Award for Crime Fiction in 1984. (Incidentally, Arthur Ellis, the most famous of Canadian hangmen, is one of the books subjects.) It doesnt seem right to call this light reading, but Engels prose is undeniably engaging, fast-paced, and never weighed down by its subject matter: The touch of a hangmans hand was said to be a sure cure for warts, wens and other blemishes, but, as Douglas Jerrold noted in Punch, hanging was supposed to cure murder, and that didnt work either. Even for an opponent of capital punishment like Engel, there is something inherently, if perversely, compelling about this subject matter. Consider the death of a thousand cuts, say, where the condemned is dismembered with knives labelled with different body parts and drawn at random from a basket, or a punishment for adultery that required a woman to be sown into a sack in company with an ape, a poisonous snake, a dog, and a cockerel, and flung into a pool to drown. The author has obviously done a lot of research, but this is not a scholarly book: Engel describes it as literary and curious. For those who find themselves still morbidly captivated after reading Lord High Executioner, a bibliography has been included. --Russell Prather