Thursday, October 11, 2018

Crime and the Psychic World by Fred Archer

Crime and the Psychic World
by Fred Archer
William Morrow 1969

Say "Murder Most Foul" and the instant response is "Jack the Ripper!"

I would have thought of Macbeth seeing how it's Macbeth, but Archer spends the first paragraph of his book defending the assertion.  The perfect introduction to the writing style of Fred Archer.  Rambling, anecdotal, impenetrable attempts at wit, name-dropping obscure figures, and I guess a little psychic stuff.

Most claims of psychic skill demonstrate the uncanny ability to predict things after they happen, but Archer's psychics can't even manage that.  In the first two cases, involving Jack the Ripper and the Brighton Trunk Murders, the psychics claim facts shown by Archer to be wrong, and each case remains unsolved.

Most of the cases are even more vague than that, and Archer's rambling style doesn't help.  Several times I had to go back a few paragraphs to try and match the psychic phenomena to the outcome of a criminal case, and it still didn't make it any clearer.

Happily, there was very little of the full-time con artists that manipulate grieving families.  Most of the stories involved mediums or prophetic dreams.  The whole affair seemed horribly outdated even by the 60s.

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