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A tangled web

by Nicholas Blake

The story

Hugo Chesterman has been sentenced to death for murdering a policeman. What is his story and will an appeal be successful? For the young, and pretty, Daisy Bland it all started when she literally bumped into Hugo Chesterman and falls madly in love. She gives up her job to lead a topsy turvy existence, reliant financially upon Hugo's success as a "commission agent". Her trust in Hugo, and in his acquaintances, mean that she is slow to pick up clues on what is happening around her. They terminate the lease on their Maida Vale rooms and take a holiday at the seaside. After losing a nestegg set aside for the baby, Hugo's need to make amends leads him into a new venture that ends in his downfall. Distraught at their circumstances, and with a baby on the way, Daisy rallies round to take on a purposefulness and strong impetus to save Hugo.


The author drew his inspiration for this novel from a real cause célèbre from the turn of the twentieth century. A cat burglar was accused, likewise, of murdering a policeman in Eastbourne and his mistress captured the public imagination through her beauty and her distress when appearing in court. As in the novel, a friend betrayed them "with a malice worthy of Iago", according to C. Day Lewis, writing in Books and Bookmen, March 1956, and quoted by Sean Day-Lewis in his biography of his father.

Page created 19 February 2002 and last updated 19 April 2008