Thursday, 6 May 2010

"Hanging Johnny" by Myrtle Johnston

This book was first published in 1927.
A short review.

The story is set in Ireland, the Ireland of the second half of last century. Johnny Cregan was a hangman, and in the course of his dreadful business it fell to him to execute one of his best friends, who, as it turned out later, was innocent. Johnny, under the influence of a half-demented prison chaplain, leaves his job and goes wandering. He is then taken on as an odd-job man by Anna Murphy, the very practical daughter of a small country grocer, and married her. This in my opinion is the weak point in an otherwise powerful story. Would Anna have married him, sacrificing the shop and everything else? They then go to Dublin, start a business that fails, and Johnny, with his wife's approval, resumes the hanging profession. The final catastrophe is appalling. This is a most painful book, but it grips and holds.