Jenny Diski writes:
In October 1946 Dagmar Petrzywalski hitched a lift in a lorry to take a puppy to her brother and sister-in-law. She often hitched, but only accepted lifts from lorry drivers, never private cars, whose owners she thought unreliable. This lorry driver killed her by strangling her with her makeshift scarf – a jumble-sale-bought darned man’s vest she had wound round her neck for warmth when she set out at dawn. In Murder at Wrotham Hill, Diana Souhami has seen the missing piece, and with great clarity and attention to its cultural meanings as well as to the pathos of the protagonists, re-created this casual murder, showing it to be as charmless and petty as the times themselves. The killing had echoes of the past and intimations of the future, but in all its details, the people involved and their backgrounds, the detection, the trial and the sentence, it was, in Souhami’s telling, a story precisely of its period and place – perplexing, distressing, overcast, postwar austerity England. After six years of fighting, hardship, fear and Blitzkrieg, no one could say in 1946 what there might be to look forward to.