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. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho.True to life, fast-paced and absolutely compelling, Summary Justice introduces a new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers driven to fight injustice at any cost.
Summary Justice by John Fairfax was published in hardback by Little Brown on 2 March 2017.
It's been quite some time since I last read a courtroom drama, especially one set in Britain. Many years ago I read lots of John Grisham novels and always enjoyed finding out more about the drama of the law courts.
Summary Justice appealed to me because the barrister, William Benson is also a convicted criminal. I felt sure that this must be a huge mistake; surely a person who has served time in prison for murder cannot practice law? But, yes, they can, and Benson's past is central to the plot of what is a convincing and intriguing, fast paced and well written legal thriller.
Sixteen years ago Tess de Vere was a young law student when William Benson was found guilty of murder. She spoke to him as he was lead away from the court. He claimed he was innocent, and Tess believed him, Now, Benson is out of prison. He has spent his jail time studying law and is not a barrister. It is not an easy life, not many people want to be represented by a convicted killer, and no solicitor will instruct him. However, Tess remembers Benson, and his claims of innocence and when Sarah Collingstone, who is accused of murder, requires legal representation, Tess instructs Benson.
What follows is an intricate and impressive plot, full of twists and unexpected events. The reader is treated to two investigations when Benson works on Sarah's case and Tess re-examines Benson's murder trial.
Summary Justice is a fascinating look at the judicial system. Fairfax writes with authority and authenticity. His story flows well and the pace is perfect. Something a little different for me and I'd recommend this one to all crime fiction and thriller fans.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and invited me to take part in this blog tour.
John Fairfax is the pen name of William Brodrick who practised as a barrister before becoming a full-time novelist.
Under his own name he is a previous winner of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award and his first novel was a Richard and Judy Selection.