That Fellow Dessy ceased’s family as well. No wonder they proceeded with diligence. (One report had it that the penalty for an unsuccessful suicide was life in prison, while the successful suicides were executed without trial ~ but that can’t be right.) Maryland law was changed some years later, by the way. A new legal option was established: dying non compos mentis, meaning with “not a composed mind.” It didn’t replace a felo de se, mind you. If it could be established that you were entirely sane when you decided to end it all, you were still a candidate for one of those midnight stake-outs.
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R. Austin Freeman It is worth noting that during my researches a book of fiction turned up, namely Felo De Se by R. Austin Freeman. It was a mystery story written in 1937 in which, as we might expect, the murder is masked as a suicide. Freeman was one of the most popular writers of detective stories during the years after A. Conan Doyle and before Agatha Christie. His hero was a Dr. Thorndyke, who specialized in forensics, like an early CSI character. Did I find a copy of Freeman’s book and order it? You bet I did. (It wasn’t bad, actually.) I brought it to the bookstore and wedged it under one corner of my printer and another small paperback under the other corner. Then, with the trap