Tess de Vere was on work experience during the summer break from her University studies – she experiences the conviction of William Benson for murder. She is convinced of his innocence and suggests to him that he could fight back by studying the law himself.
Sixteen years later William is out of prison and trying to establish himself as a barrister against the wishes of the establishment and a public swell of opinion. Tess is drawn back into his world and starts to work alongside him – at the same time trying to work out whether he was innocent or guilty of his original conviction.
If you enjoy John Grisham novels then this book is for you. A legal mystery and subsequent investigation of not only one but two murders 16 years apart, but the writing of John Fairfax is based in England rather than America (like Grisham) and therefore seems more relevant and accessible to a reader in the UK.
It is obvious that the author is an expert in legal technicalities and these are what William Benson has studied whilst in prison making him a formidable and unexpectedly clever opponent in the law courts. I found the first quarter of the book a little slow as the scene was set and characters introduced however it soon picked up and I found it difficult to put down during the second half. The relationship between Tess and William is central to the novel but we are also introduced to a number of side plots with twists and turns along the way. Naturally the reader tries to guess the ending but it was not obvious although I would not be surprised if there were more novels involving some of the characters in this one – which I would certainly read.
I would score the book 4/5 – I rarely give a 5 but I would say what let the book down (if anything) was the first few chapters which failed to hook the reader as much as the rest of the book, once it got going. In a phrase ‘The English answer to John Grisham’
My Guest Reviewer today is Anne Packwood, who is a member of my online book club Hens Hooked on Books.
Anne works full time as an academic administrator at a university in the Midlands. She counts reading as one of her main hobbies along with dancing, crafts and going to the theatre. She normally reads at least one novel each week but sometimes this is difficult with all the other demands on her time. Her tastes in books vary and she is always willing to try something or someone new, at the moment historical fiction and crime seem to be dominating her ‘to read’ pile – she is also pedantic about reading a series of novels in the order they were written even if the author does not feel this is important – feeling that there is nothing worse than missing something in a previous book that had a bearing on the current ‘read’. If she ever has enough time she would love to write a novel herself and has taken a number of creative writing classes but is waiting for the big idea to come along.