Frank McLynn

Full of Lollipops

The Oxford Book of Villains

By

Oxford University Press 413pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

John Mortimer’s volume is an enjoyable romp through the stories of bad guys in history, literature and legend: from the banality of evil in the form of Dr Crippen to its satanic manifestation in M R James’s Karswell, from tyrants like Mussolini to bullies like Judge Jeffreys and Flashman. This is not so much a rogue’s gallery, more an Uffizi of s.o.b.s (daughters are largely absent), and it contains many surprises: Borges, for example, as a better guide to the New York underworld than Damon Runyon.

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