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Beyond Reasonable Doubt

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Member Reviews

Great author, plot and story.  Would highly recommend others!!  Gary Bell is a such a great author...
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Hiding his youthful indiscretions, Elliott Rook has reinvented himself as a pillar of the legal profession.  A QC with an enviable track record in court he is also recently divorced, overweight, a smoker and a drinker.  When a former friend insists that Rook defends him on a murder charge, Rook is forced to confront his past - not based on an Eton education but in the mining areas of Nottinghamshire and a life of petty crime.  His client a white supremicist, the crime racially motivated murder and Rook has a lot to lose.
On the positive side this book has a lot of promise.  Co-authored by an eminent QC the legal aspects are clever and clear and Rook is an interesting anti-hero.  On the negative side the plot gets a little tangled and the twists are just a little too convenient.  It's a promising start but the writing team needs a little more development to really make this series fly.
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The first book in a new legal thriller series. 
This book has plenty of action both inside and outside the court room. 
A great read and can’t wait for the next instalment.
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#BeyondReasonableDoubt #NetGalley A great start to a new series involving Elliot Rook QC and his new junior Zara Barnes.  Reminiscent of the Cormoran Strike novels this was every bit as entertaining and by the end of the book I had warmed to the two main characters.  A fair bit of descriptive writing which is inevitable at the start of a new series but when the action came it was gripping and mesmerizing.  Great to see from a different perspective than the more common detective thrillers, I look forward to the next installment in this series
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I do love court room drama so I was really intrigued by the blurb of BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT and once I started reading it I couldn’t stop. The protagonist of the novel is Elliott Rook, a respected QC with a troubled past that risk to come to light if he doesn’t accept to defend Billy Barber, an old acquaintance, accused of brutally murdering a young unidentified woman. With the help of his new bright and resourceful junior assistant (his Rookie), Zara Barnes, Elliott sets off to prove Billy’s innocence, even if that means going back to a place and a past he left behind a long time ago.

First of all, let me say that I don’t know anything at all about the role of the QC and the British justice system, but I found the author’s attention to details in describing the behind the scenes of court rooms very fascinating and informative. As a matter of fact, my favourite part of the novel was the Old Bailey trial. The scenes were tense, provocative, full of surprises, and so well-described that I could picture it all in my head and I found myself completely captivated.

Elliott and Zara are an unlikely and yet well-matched pair. He is dark and  a bit cocky while Zara is the confident and friendly young woman who comes into his life at a moment when nothing is going in the right way. I liked how their relationship developed, trusting each other and forming a sort of friendship, and I am really looking forward to reading more about the two of them.

BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT is a well-written, intriguing thought-provoking first book in a series that I plan to keep reading and I highly recommend!
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The fact that Gary Bell is himself a QC contributes to this being an excellent description of the British justice system with all its intricacies laid bare. One can’t help but compare this to the many courtroom and legal dramas, on both our shelves and screens and I for one find all of it truly fascinating. It’s something that draws you in, wraps itself around you and will only let go once you’ve discovered that evidence, uncovered that last clue, solved that crime and heard the verdict declared.

This is the first in a series featuring Elliot Rook, a well-respected QC in Chambers and part of the ‘old-boy’ club. But assumptions can create deception – or is it the other way around? Rook isn’t quite what people think he is. When he becomes swamped by a massive fraud case, he’s encouraged to take on an assistant. He surprises everyone by taking on Zara Barnes. She’s a young girl of mixed-race, hungry to make it in the legal world and she reminds Rook more than a little bit of himself in younger years – not that anyone knows that. He comes under a lot of criticism for hiring Zara though. She doesn’t look the part and she certainly doesn’t fit into the hushed and revered surroundings of the Courts. But Rook couldn’t care less.

But then a murder case comes up. A young, unidentified Middle Eastern girl’s murdered body is found on the railway track on the outskirts of the small Nottingham mining town where Rook grew up. It’s a place he left behind him many years ago, hoping never to return. Its mining days are long gone and Bell’s descriptions of this dark, dreary place that lost hope so long ago allow the reader to feel the unease that its miserable residents must feel every day of their lives.

Billy Barber, local criminal, is a known racist and a brutally violent man. Circumstantial evidence is enough to pin the girl’s murder on him. But he insists that he’s represented by Elliot Rook and threatens to expose his past unless he agrees. And so Rook is forced to return to the place that holds so many bad memories for him. It seems to be a cut and dried case – obviously the Barber’s the murderer; who else could it be? And yet, Barber claims he didn’t do it, and almost immediately Rook finds that he believes him and that there are other factors in play here.

Bell, with his knowledge of the Old Bailey, gives us an inside look at the workings of the British criminal justice system. He’s sometimes cynical, and at other times uses droll humour, being able to stand back and have a bit of a chuckle at a system that he knows takes itself rather seriously. He artfully steers the reader through his shrewd twists and crafty misdirections until he leads us to that final disclosure!

5 stars for this, and highly recommended for lovers of legal and criminal procedure books. Would be a great way in for those looking to test the waters! I can’t wait to read more about Elliot Rook QC and his sidekick Zara Barnes!
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Beyond Reasonable doubt is the first in a new legal thriller series by acclaimed QC and writer Gary Bell and featuring Elliot Rook QC, a barrister at the Miller and Stubbs chambers. I am always drawn to these stories as a law graduate but well executed, thought-provoking courtroom dramas are as rare as hen's teeth; this is all of that and much, much more. The legal side is authentic and the discussion about the law is accurate — exactly what you'd expect from a lawyer. It's perfectly paced, well written and nail-bitingly tense and we are drawn into a tale with many unscrupulous characters who each have skeletons in their closet. I particularly loved the Old Bailey trial as we were exposed to the mechanics of the British legal system.

I enjoyed Bell's witty ridicule directed at the system he knows so well and found it a very entertaining crime debut. It's action-packed, suspenseful and full of intrigue, and main characters Rook and Zara are very likeable, complex individuals and complement each other beautifully. I was also satisfied that there was no sexual tension between the two as it is becoming a bit of a cliche in the thriller genre. There are a few twists in the tale and masterful misdirection repeatedly pushes you into backing the wrong horse. The conclusion was ultimately satisfying if a tad predictable but that did not impact my enjoyment too much. I cannot wait for the next instalment and look forward to seeing the characters evolve. Many thanks to Raven Books for an ARC.
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It’s no secret that I absolutely love legal thrillers and anything with a courtroom drama aspect to it so I had a sneaky feeling that I would enjoy this book before I even started it. What intrigued me is that this is the first in the series to feature the lead character Elliot Rook and there is a hole in the market for a good legal series at the moment. Providing this book lived up to my expectations I was really excited at the prospect of finding a new legal series to look forward to! 

Elliot Rook is within the top echelons of his industry practicing law as a QC (Queens Counsel) within an esteemed Chambers in the heart of legal London. But life hasn’t always been so fortunate to Elliot and as I read through this book I actually learned his upbringing was far from the Etonian facade he presented to his peers. This actually made Elliot much more relatable knowing that he wasn’t this perfectly moulded character born with a silver spoon in his mouth. 

Elliot teams up with Zara, a young pupil barrister desperately looking for a break after constantly being turned away because her face and background don’t ‘fit’. Elliot sees something in Zara and together they start to investigate and prepare for a trial involving an old friend from Elliot’s past. This old friend, however, is one Elliot would rather forget and by taking on his case Elliot is forced to face some truths from his past. 

I absolutely can’t wait for the next instalment in this series and I’m so intrigued to see how the author builds upon these two characters in particular. Thank you Gary for writing the legal series I have been eagerly awaiting!
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This is the first in a series featuring Elliot Rook QC.

Elliott Rook is a QC with a past that he has kept a secret from his peers

His personal life is a mess, his wife has gone, he drinks and smokes too much but he’s committed to the law. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial.

Talking to a colleague about taking on a junior, they show a lack of respect for any one not from the established background of Eton and privilege……but Rook then meets Zara Barnes and her background reminds him of his own and so he takes her on as his Junior…

Both from working class background in Nottinghamshire, and with a similar determination they hit it off immediately…..Rook laughs genuinely for the first time in a long while…..

Zara is meant to be helping with a fraud case, by trawling though tonnes of paperwork to find evidence…..but Rook takes her along to a meeting with his new client, Billy Barber, a name from his past.

There has been a murder of a young girl from a Middle Eastern background and Barber has been arrested….all evidence points to him….doesn’t it?

Barber is a horrible excuse for a human being, a racist, white supremacist thug and Rook really doesn’t want the case, but Barber threatens to tell of his criminal background so he takes the case….

This tells of the investigation, the court case and the friendship that builds between Zara and Rook. Violent, twisty and so compelling. With a marvellously satisfying ending…..I love it and will be looking out for the next in the series….

Thank you to The publishers, the author and NetGalley  for a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.
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Elliot Rook QC is an eminent barrister, working out of a prestige Chambers. He has a hidden, rather sordid past though which he is desperate to keep under wraps. Most of his peers are completely oblivious to the path he took to gain Silk and he likes it this way. Little do they know of his ex-mining town background and the things he did to survive growing up there. When we first meet him he is in the middle of a big fraud case which isn't quite going according to plan and he is trying to get help from others. He bumps into Zara Barnes, who coincidentally shares a similar background to him, as she leaves from an unsuccessful interview with his own Chambers and takes it upon himself to not only re-interview her but also to employ her. His world is then torn apart when he is requested to represent a face from the past. The past he has struggled to keep hidden. Billy Barber, the brother of his best friend (now deceased) has got himself arrested for the murder of a young, unknown woman. He protests his innocence even though his alcohol consumption dictates that even he can't say what he was doing at the time so has no alibi. Now Billy may be many things, even a killer in his past, but everyone deserves a fair trial. Blackmailed into taking the case, and with Billy not being very helpful in building his own defence, can Rook and Zara get to the bottom of things in time, deliver the correct verdict, and keep Rook's past firmly in the past?
Rook is a bit of a character to say the least and, after reading up about the author on finishing this book, shares a lot of his past with Mr Bell himself. He's brash and brusque and doesn't suffer fools. His marriage has broken down, something he is still a bit in denial of. His lifestyle also leave a lot to be desired. But, and this is important, he has a healthy respect for the law, especially the innocent until proven guilty and entitled to a fair trial parts, something he endeavours to instil in Zara as they work together. 
Zara is a bit of a revelation. She's smart and gutsy and rubs along quite well with Rook. She may have had a bit of a time with the politics of things in her past employment but that doesn't seem to have taken the shine off things for her. She just needs a break and appears to have found a kindred spirit in Rook although appearing chalk and cheese at face value. I loved some of their interactions and found certain conversations enlightening.
The story itself was a wee bit predictable and I guessed the ending ahead of time which did take some weight off the punch for me. Probably no fault of the author as I do read a lot of this genre book so I know most of the tricks by now! That said, this book delivered more during the journey rather than relying on just the twist at the end so, overall, it was a good solid read. Pacing was also good and the description complemented the narrative rather than distracting from it.
The author also got my favourite barrister joke into the narrative and, for that alone, I salute him!
All in all, a cracking series opener which thoroughly satisfied but, at the same time, left me hankering for more. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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I enjoy reading legal thrillers and obviously find some better than others. Beyond Reasonable Doubt is definitely one of the better ones that I have read.

Rook is silk and he isn’t like any of the others he works with. He isn’t Eton educated and he has a dubious past that he is determined will stay hidden. When he takes on a junior who is from the area he is brought up in and simultaneously is forced into defending a man from his past it appears that everything will be revealed.

One of the reasons this novel works so well is because Rook obviously has problems. There is his past, which only a few are aware of, his marital breakdown, his drinking and his weight. This isn’t a man who is clean and guilt free. He doesn’t have many friends in his profession and it doesn’t bother him. Zara, his junior, is the only one he really gets on with.

The case itself is a grim one. Racism at its worst and it’s something you expect to read about on a daily basis. The language and threat made me cringe and I had to admire Zara for putting up with it.

I liked the Nottingham setting. A mining community that no longer exists and has no prospects. Lives ruined, tragic events leading to loss of life and something I had never even considered and wondered if it was true. Football chants aimed at strike breakers. 

I would definitely read another in this series.
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Beyond Reasonable Doubt is the first novel by Gary Bell and it is an excellent fast paced legal thriller.

The writing is very sharp and the story, with twists, keot me hooked until the end. The author also manages to incorporate a little bit of humour into proceedings without distracting from the flow of the main story.

The two main characters are well established and definitely have room to grow as the series continues.

Overall an excellent debut which is thoroughly recommended
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This review will go live on 25 June (my stop on the blog tour)

Hi and welcome to my stop on the Beyond Reasonable Doubt blog tour! First of all, thanks so much Emma Welton for the invite on this #damppebblesblogtour and to Raven Books (Bloomsbury) for the e-ARC via NetGalley!

You can try and bury the past as much as you like, but sooner or later, it will come back to bite you in the arse. In Beyond Reasonable Doubt it’s main character Elliot Rook whose past comes knocking and when I say knocking I mean pounding on the door, and it does so in the form of Billy Barber. In a former life, Rook was Billy’s brother’s best friend. Billy was a criminal back then, and he’s only got worse over time. However, this is the first time he’s been accused of murder. And so he calls upon Rook, and Billy may be above begging, but he is most certainly not above blackmail! If Rook wants his past to stay in the past, if he wants to prevent it from blowing up both his present and future, he has no choice but to accept the case and so he and his brand-new junior Zara Barnes take on Billy’s case. However, Billy is not any easy man to defend, he’s mean, he’s a racist, he has a bit of a temper. Rook and Zara have no doubt he’s hiding something, and neither did I for that matter, but the question remained: what was he hiding? Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything I had foreseen! And neither was anything that came after the reveal of Billy’s secrets. Did I have theories? Sure I did, but Mr Bell had successfully thrown me off the scent and I found myself barking up the wrong tree.

While Billy Barber is a highly unlikeable character, I really liked Elliot Rook and Zara Barnes. Rook is the perfect mix of Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike and Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn. If you’re fan of either, then this is the start of a fabulous series that has your name written all over it! For the record: I know this because I am a fan of both. Like Strike, Rook is a little rough around the edges, a bit of a misfit, and a keen detective. Like Flynn, Rook is an excellent lawyer with a bit of a criminal past, not afraid to shock judge and jury alike. Zara is young and ambitious. She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t give in and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She doesn’t expect things to just fall into her lap, she puts in the work to get what she wants. Together they are a brilliant duo. Twenty years younger than he is, but just as clever, Zara is the perfect yin to Rook’s yang. There’s mutual respect, there’s the beginning of friendship, and as much as I’m pro Strike+Robin, I was happy to find zero romantic or sexual tension between the two.

Knowing that Gary Bell was born into a coal mining family and has been a QC specialising in criminal defence since 2012, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the inspiration for Elliot Rook QC came from. As such, this story felt very realistic, from the small-town scenes to the courtroom ones.

This is a nicely paced and suspenseful legal thriller, and an exciting start of a new series! I for one can’t wait to see what the future will bring for Rook and Zara! Recommended.
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Elliott Rook is a QC with a past he is not sure he wants brought out into the open. His life is his work - work, smoke, drink, sleep, repeat. He is unsure where things personally started to go downhill but his work life remains his primary focus. His mentor and Head of chambers know his background but it is not something he wishes the world to be aware of. 

It comes as a surprise to Rook that he takes on a young ‘rookie’ Zara Barnes to his chambers to assist him with a significant fraud case. It seems Rook identifies in Zara many of his own similar traits, having been raised from a background of social inequity, from a similar region to himself, fiercely intelligent with a quest for the seeing justice being done. Zara is refreshingly anti -establishment, a strong, opinionated Doc Marten wearing challenge to societal norms and Rook appears to relish the professional opportunity and exuberance she brings to the chambers. 

Rook’s intention is to have Zara assist him with a significant fraud matter he has spent months preparing for. 

And then his past becomes the present ..... Billy Barber has been charged with the murder of a young sixteen year old girl of middle eastern heritage. She has yet to be identified and her body was found badly beaten and tortured near railways lines , right near where Billy and Rook grew up together. Billy wants Rook and will accept no-one else to run his defence. He makes it clear to Rook he will help him or Billy will expose his secrets. The trial is to be held at the Old Bailey. And Billy is well known to police, as a violent racist and thug with a lengthy criminal history, and seemingly significant circumstantial evidence suggesting he will be found guilty of murder.

Rook and Zara must work together exploring Rook’s old stomping ground - is there any other evidence or Is the current evidence the only evidence?. He enlists some assistance from DI Sean McCarthy who has not moved from the area. Rook has not seen McCarthy for many years and appears to have done well for himself in line with Rook. And Billy? He does not seem to offer anything in his own defence except to say he did nit do it so Rook and Zara are working against the clock in order to mount their defence. 

This is a first instalment in an Elliott Rook series. It has action, suspense and intrigue. Rook is a complex but truly likeable character and Zara is a great character to develop.. Readers  loving good Courtroom drama and legal thrillers will appreciate this book. It’s balanced, interesting and with unexpected subplots. It leaves you wondering what the pair are going to be confronted with next.. 

Thank you to Gary Bell, Netgalley, Raven Books and Bloomsbury for an eARC of this book. I look forward to the next instalment! 

Review will also be posted to goodreads and Instagram:\aplace_inthesun.
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This is the first in a new legal thriller series from Gary Bell, featuring Elliot Rook QC, a barrister at the Miller and Stubbs Chambers, a man with secrets. He has a past that no-one knows about, although the head of chambers, Rupert Stubbs is aware of it. Today he is a man with the right background expected by the professional establishment, apparently an Eton old boy, but all is not as it seems. Rook is a man who dragged himself up from a challenging social environment when he could just as easily have drifted into a life of crime, growing up in the impoverished ex-mining town of Cotgrave in Nottinghamshire. Rook is swamped by a huge and complex fraud case, when it is suggested that he acquires some much needed help, which is how he comes to take on Zara Barnes, from his home city, mixed race, bright, and offbeat with her Doc Martens. She has a hunger and enthusiasm for the profession that reminds him of his younger self, an anti-establishment character, just the kind of new blood required in his chambers.

Rook has yet to come to terms with the break down of his marriage and subsequent divorce, drinking and smoking too much, and the only thing he has in his life is his work. He is not the most diplomatic of personalities, putting up the backs of people, a trait that often leads to him making enemies that he could do without. His past comes back to haunt him when someone who knows his unsavoury history blackmails him into representing him, to defend him on the charge of murder in an upcoming trial at the Old Bailey. An unidentified 16 year old young girl of Middle Eastern appearance is found brutally tortured and murdered on the old railway lines in Cotgrave. Billy Barber is an unprepossessing man, having spent much of his life in prison, a well known and larger than life notorious character, his entire family have a fearsome local reputation. He is a far right racist activist with a history of violence, a man who encountered the murdered girl, and there is sufficient circumstantial evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to have charged him with murder. 

Rook and Zara face a formidable task, their client is less than willing to help himself, he makes a poor impression in court and it looks as if the prosecution have a slam dunk case on their hand. Rook finds himself immersed in a past and a place that he thought he had left behind long ago, as he reconnects with people such as the Irish Catholic DI Sean McCarthy. With the disintegration of his marriage, Rook might be professionally successful, but his personal life is empty and depressing. So it is hardly surprising that the entry of Zara into his life is like a breath of fresh air into his life, she may be a rookie, but it would be a mistake to under estimate her. This a great crime debut, and I look forward to reacquainting myself with Rook and Zara in the next book. This is a novel that I think those who love courtroom dramas and legal thrillers will enjoy. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
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Elliot Rook is a QC in London, recently made silk, and is something of a maverick with a lot to hide from his past.  He employs a new junior. from his home town, Nottingham, much against the wishes of his colleagues, and together they take on the case of a hoodlum from Elliot's past, a vicious character who has blackmailed Elliot into representing him, who is on trial for the nasty murder of a young girl in Cotgrave. 
Just when you think everything has been solved, the story takes an unexpected turn.  The final pages were absolutely gripping..

The characters are really well rounded and interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the setting as they go back to Nottingham (my former home town) to gather local evidence.  The interaction between the life-hardened QC and the naive young assistant is very well handled.  Prejudice and bigotry in many forms abound throughout the book, and again this is well portrayed without labouring the point.

The book is, I understand, written by a QC and it very convincingly brings us into a world that is a closed book for most of us.  I look forward to more in this series.

Rook and Rookie rock!   

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing PLC for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an excellent start to an exciting new series starring British QC Elliot Rook. Son of a coal miner, Elliot has escaped his impoverished upbringing and put himself through University to become a lawyer, barrister and now a newly minted QC. Most of his Chambers don't know that he comes from a disadvantaged background that he keeps well hidden so when he takes on a mixed race, Doc Marten-wearing pupil who hasn't attended the right school or University, a few eyebrows are raised. But Elliot sees something of himself in whip smart Zara Barnes who grew up in his home town.

When Rock is asked to defend Billy Barber, a violent, racist man he knows from that same northern mining town, who has been charged with murder of a young middle Eastern woman, he asks Zara to act as his junior assistant for the trial in the Old Bailey. Billy is no stranger to jail, but although denying killing the woman, he can offer no alibi or explanation as to why he was in the same place at the same time.  With only two weeks to prepare for the trial, Elliot and Zara have their work cut out investigating what happened that night.

I love a good legal drama and this one not only has great courtroom drama in the old Bailey but plenty of action as Elliot and Zara visit their old home town to gather evidence. As a lawyer himself, Bell is able to poke a little fun at the British legal fraternity. He has also invented some engaging and credible characters in Elliot and Zara, as well as the despicable Billy and tops it all off with an unexpected ending. I am already looking forward to his next novel in this excellent new series.
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This is the first in the series of Elliot Rook, Q.C. novels and the first time I have read Gary Bell.  What a brilliant read it turned out to be.  

Elliot Rook is a Q.C. and takes on a new Pupil, Zara Barnes.  Elliott has a background he wishes to hide and has spent many years lying and covering up where he is from and what he has been involved with.

A well known criminal who has spent time in prison for hate crimes along with other aggressive acts is charged with the murder of a young girl, unknown, who was found badly mutilated.  Elliot and Zara take on the case, as Elliot knows the accused from his former life.  It is the brother of his best friend at school.

As we get drawn into the murkiness of the accused the author takes us on a journey through the Old Bailey trial, which I found mesmerising.  Well-written with clever portrayals of characters who all have something to hide along with a brilliant ending.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing plc, Raven Books and Gary Bell for my ARC in return for my honest review.

I loved this novel and found it entertaining, witty and honest.

Highly recommended.
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I enjoyed this as I am a sucker for a good legal thriller and this certainly is one. I tis the first in a new series featuring Rook, a barrister who is not who he seems to be and is intent on guarding the secret of his past.

Things get complicated when he is asked to defend a criminal who threatens to expose him.

The book has been written by a lawyer and is therefore accurate and credible.

A good start to an exciting new series.
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