The Darkness Around Her. Neil White

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Lizzie has been in an abusive relationship for a while, so when she gets hit, in public, on New Year’s Eve, she decides she’s had enough and runs away. Unfortunately, she decides to run away along a canal tow path where a killer is waiting.

When her body is found the Police quickly make an arrest. The suspect asks for legal representation form only one person. Dan Grant.

Dan is a Barrister who has specialised in representing defendants for the last 10 years, but this defendant is a first for him, a first in two ways. He won’t talk about the crime, even to Dan, and he won’t allow Dan to employ a Queens Council. He wants Dan to represent him in Court.

Dan is left with no choice, if his client won’t give him anything to use in his defence, he will have to find evidence to prove his innocence himself.

Dan employs his usual Private Investigator, Jayne Brett, to start digging around for information on the suspect and the girl he is accused of killing.

Jayne is a good investigator, but she has one problem. Dan. There is a chemistry between them, one that Jayne would love to explore, but Dan has ethics and Jayne was once a client. The chemistry is real and at times both of them are genuinely frustrated to the point of distraction.

As the court case gets closer the investigation starts to uncover more crimes that have occurred on the Canal, can they all be related? Is this the defence? Could they prove that if their client didn’t commit any of the other crimes he can’t be responsible for this murder.

This book takes the reader on one hell of a trip. The parts of the book written about the legal process; the client interviews, the trips to the police station, the court proceedings are fascinatingly written and very realistic.

The investigation into the murder on the canal, and the historic crimes which have taken place are great. Proper Investigations have to take place, there’s not many CCTV cameras on canals, no ANPR cameras. If you’ve ever walked along a canal in a city centre, you’ll know how quickly you feel like you are out in the country.

The canals are a great place to set a modern day crime and have to rely on investigation techniques from 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the legal side of it, the investigation is intriguing, and the relationship between Dan and Jayne is mesmerising.

 

Pages: 448

Publisher. Zaffre

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Unconvicted Olly Jarvis

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Jack Kowalski is a 26-year-old Defence Barrister. Being so young he not only has to navigate the Laws, Ethics, and Traditions of the Court room but he also has to put up with the bullying ways of some of the more senior Barristers and Silks in his own Chambers.

When a man, who is apparently insane, rapes his wife, Jack gets the case and manages to get the man released from custody. A few days later the same man is arrested for murdering his wife.

Jack now has the moralistic dilemma faced by many defence Barristers.  Did he get guilty man acquitted, and did that man go on to murder his wife.

Owing in some small part to his success in that case, and largely because of his Polish heritage, Jack picks up a second rape case to defend; that of a prominent young footballer.

Has the player really raped the girl or is she no more than a tabloid whore who is out to ruin the young man.

This story is so on point for today’s news that it is almost anticipating tomorrows headlines.

Jack is a great character and the dilemmas he faces are very real for people who work on the defence side of a criminal trial. As the story follows Jack through the Court proceedings it brings up things which we are seeing on a daily basis in the news. Men named and shamed, victims anonymity, issues of disclosure, or lack of it and misleading information being tendered to both Prosecution and Defence.

The story looks at the snobbism which is rampant in the Court hierarchy and how difficult it is to be a young Barrister in an old established system. But the most impressive thing for me is the way Jacks thoughts and feelings are established on the page.

Many times I have sat in Court, as a Prosecution Expert, and wondered how the people working on the defence could balance their own convictions and ethics with what was playing out during a trial.

As a work of fiction, this is about the best I’ve read when it comes to modern day proceedings and the people involved in them

 

Pages: 318

UK Publisher: Canelo

Available on Amazon

Anatomy of a Scandal Sarah Vaughan

 

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Just to deviate from my usual reading I was looking for a Political, or Court, Drama. Anatomy of a Scandal came up in the Amazon search engine when I put both categories in so I thought I’d give it ago, even if it did say “female fiction” as the main category.

Well either I’m in touch with my feminine side or they have the category wrong. I found this to be a thoroughly engrossing read.

The synopsis for the story reads like it should be from a tabloid news front page, but it is written with the panache of a broad sheet.

James Whitehouse is a high profile Conservative MP, a cabinet minister, and a very good friend of the Prime Minister. They have been friends from school and were members of the Libertines at Oxford University.

The story starts with Sophie Whitehouse, his wife, waiting at home for her husband who is uncharacteristically late and out of contact. When he walks through the door he looks worried; and he should be, he’s just about to tell his wife he has been having an affair with a pretty young researcher, and that the press has got hold of the story.

Could it get any worse?

Oh yes!

The researcher Olivia Lytton accuses James of rape and he is arrested, and the case goes to court in a high-profile media circus of a hearing.

Sophie decides to stand by her man; but does she believe him.

Kate Woodcroft QC the CPS prosecution Barrister is convinced James is guilty and is prepared to do almost anything, within the law, to see him found guilty.

The story concentrates on the Court hearing whilst flashing back to James and Sophie’s University days and the shenanigans of the Libertines. Will this history show why Sophie is so adamant that James is innocent, or explain why she wants to stand by him? Will it show why Kate is so determined get a guilty verdict.

There are places in this book, where Sarah Vaughan described places and people very deeply, that I have to admit to speed reading or skipping text as; but the story is outstanding.

Throughout the book I found myself taking sides, then changing my opinion. If I had been on the Jury I might have had a hard time reaching a verdict…..at times.

By the end of the book my allegiances were firmly on one side, but I dare say people will have different opinions.

I am so glad I decided to look at a different genre of book.

Pages: 400

Publishers: Simon & Schuster UK

Publishing date:  11 January 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon