The Trial of Callista Blake

Read by Roger Melin

(4 stars; 8 reviews)

In 1959, in the state of New Essex, a witch was on trial. Or so she seemed to many of the jurors who would ultimately decide her fate, and to the people who thronged the crowded courtroom, many of them friends of the murdered woman. On trial for poisoning her former lover's wife, she would--if found guilty--be executed.

Callista Blake is nineteen years old at the time of her trial. She has a very slight physical deformity, and the much greater mental ones of apparent aloofness, fierce independence of mind, a laconic and sometimes sarcastic wit, marked but unconventional artistic talent, avowed atheism, and a complete inability to compromise. Added to all this, although she is not beautiful by any of the usual criteria, men find her overwhelmingly attractive. No wonder the good people of Winchester and Shanesville dislike her, fear her, and, subconsciously, at least, think she is a witch. No wonder they do not believe Callista's story that she had mixed the deadly potion of Monkshood and brandy for herself at a moment of suicidal depression, and had been prevented by a miscarriage from saving Nancy Doherty, who had drunk the stuff accidentally. The circumstantial evidence against Callista could not be more damning, yet there are one or two people unshakeably convinced of her innocence.

This is the story of their struggle in the courtroom to save her. On her side are one witness--Edith Nolan, her friend and former employer--her defending counsel--Cecil Warner, a sick, aging man who loves her--and Terence Mann, who in his role as judge is obliged to attempt impartiality but, trying his first case carrying the death penalty, is appalled that the fate of a human being can be at the mercy of anything so haphazard as the adversary system and the whim of a jury. We see Callista's ordeal and the events that brought her to it from the viewpoints of all these people, as well as that of Callista herself. We see T. J. Hunter, the formidable District Attorney (they call him hunter Hunter), Jim Doherty, only too willing to accept his confessor's view that he was an innocent ensnared by a temptress of whom he is now happily free, Callista's well-meaning stepfather, hopelessly dominated by her overbearing, histrionic mother, the perfect Gertrude to Callista's Hamlet, and many others who indirectly hold Callista's life in their hands. We gradually learn the history of Callista's passionate affair with Jim, told with a compassion and insight which contrast poignantly with the chilling ritual of the courtroom. Edgar Pangborn knows and understands the people he writes about. And with irresistible force he shows that no one is good enough or wise enough to hold the power of life and death. (Summary from book dust jacket) (13 hr 5 min)


01 - Part 1, section 1 29:04 Read by Roger Melin
02 - Part 1, section 2 19:43 Read by Roger Melin
03 - Part 1, section 3 39:09 Read by Roger Melin
04 - Part 1, section 4 5:55 Read by Roger Melin
05 - Part 2, section 1 29:09 Read by Roger Melin
06 - Part 2, section 2 31:49 Read by Roger Melin
07 - Part 2, section 3 19:52 Read by Roger Melin
08 - Part 2, section 4 5:25 Read by Roger Melin
09 - Part 3, section 1 35:05 Read by Roger Melin
10 - Part 3, section 2 18:42 Read by Roger Melin
11 - Part 3, section 3 30:20 Read by Roger Melin
12 - Part 3, section 4 8:29 Read by Roger Melin
13 - Part 4, section 1 29:30 Read by Roger Melin
14 - Part 4, section 2 38:00 Read by Roger Melin
15 - Part 4, section 3 39:06 Read by Roger Melin
16 - Part 4, section 4 8:06 Read by Roger Melin
17 - Part 5, section 1 33:12 Read by Roger Melin
18 - Part 5, section 2 43:12 Read by Roger Melin
19 - Part 5, section 3 32:19 Read by Roger Melin
20 - Part 5, section 4 5:57 Read by Roger Melin
21 - Part 6, section 1 25:50 Read by Roger Melin
22 - Part 6, section 2 40:23 Read by Roger Melin
23 - Part 7, section 1 49:43 Read by Roger Melin
24 - Part 7, section 2 19:31 Read by Roger Melin
25 - Part 7, section 3 53:18 Read by Roger Melin
26 - Part 8, section 1 38:15 Read by Roger Melin
27 - Part 8, section 2 33:35 Read by Roger Melin
28 - Part 8, section 3 22:45 Read by Roger Melin


Good Reader/ Blah Book

(2 stars)

This one is a demonstration that a bad book can defeat the best efforts of a fine volunteer reader. the description of the book is promising, but the book's concentration on improbably May-September, May-December, and May-November romances, and the lusty thoughts of middle aged and older men, bore when they do not repel. The lead character is not as sympathetic as the author would have us believe, there is no real mystery here, and the characters, whose thoughts we purportedly hear, do not convince for a second. If you want a circa 1962 book filled with Kinsey Report imaginings, and descriptions of the cardiac problems of lead characters, this is your kind of recording. Otherwise, there are a lot of other offerings.

I think it a fine book, very interesting, however

(4 stars)

nothing against Mr. Melin who is a fine reader, but I wish this was also read by a woman or a collaborative of women or both genders. perhaps it is just me, the better sex always seems to help me retain more, help me to gain insight and enjoy the read. btw i am a male, and no not a liberal male lapdog but a socialist who feels the male and females are equal brothers and sisters in society and beyond.