Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown.
The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He’d said he was innocent. She’d believed him.
Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger’s in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson’s life. The price of his rehabilitation – and access to the Bar – is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He’s an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he’s subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It’s a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson’s first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she’s innocent.
Thoroughly enjoyed this legal thriller from John Fairfax (AKA William Broderick) it was full of bang on addictive quality, clever plotting and intriguing fascinating characters.
Our main two, Will and Tess have an emotional start to their interaction when Will is convicted of murder. Years later, having served his time and taken on the law as a career (not that easy with a murder conviction) Tess comes across him again – and again decides to help him. The levels of both characters are explored slowly but surely within the plot for this and that was one of my favourite things about it. I was drawn to these two for very different reasons.
Then there was the trial elements which were highly engaging and very twisty – as was the whole story surrounding Sarah Collingstone, in the dock accused of murdering her employer. John Fairfax throws a lot of curve balls at his protagonists, keeping the plot unpredictable and fast flowing, whilst also managing to keep a firm eye on developing the background plot of whether or not William Benson is in fact a murderer himself.
Key to this being so much fun to read were the little legal explanations of why things can or can’t happen (I can’t speak to the authenticity in reality of course but the authors background would suggest he knows what he is doing and it certainly FELT authentic) that kept your understanding of the legal maneuvers easy but without taking you out of the story or feeling lectured (believe me that is a huge plus) you felt like you were there on the ground so to speak, excellent stuff.
As a start to the series it was spot on – you learn so much about Will, about Tess, about those around them but there is a lot still to know – I’m genuinely looking forward to another instalment and hopefully finding out more. Both the main characters are brilliantly drawn, both have fascinating paths to where we find them here, both have a lot more to say.
As a legal mystery Summary Justice works very well indeed. As a character drama it is perhaps even better, put the two together and you have a genuinely absorbing and captivating read that I will happily recommend.
Lets have more!
You can purchase Summary Justice HERE