Wednesday 23 March 2011

Witness by Cath Staincliffe

 Four bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
Witnesses to the shocking shooting of a teenage boy. 
A moment that changes their lives forever. 
Fiona, a midwife, is plagued by panic attacks and unable to work. Has she the strength to testify? 
Mike, a delivery driver and family man, faces an impossible decision when his frightened wife forces him to choose - us or the court case. 
Cheryl, a single-mother, doesn't want her child to grow up in the same climate of fear. Dare she speak out and risk her own life? 

Zak, a homeless man, offers to talk in exchange for witness protection and the chance of a new start. 
Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Will the witnesses stand firm or be prevented from giving evidence? How will they cope with the emotional trauma of reliving the murder under pitiless cross-examination? 
A compassionate, suspenseful and illuminating story exploring the real human cost of bearing witness.

Cath Staincliffe's The Kindest Thing was one of my Top Ten Reads of 2010 and her latest novel, Witness has confirmed her place amongst my favourite authors.
Tackling a sensitive subject once again, she does not shy away from real-life situations, this really is hard-hitting stuff that once again makes the reader ask themself 'what would I do?'
The brutal gangland murder of a 16 year old boy is the focal part of the story, but does not take centre stage.  The real story concerns those people who witnessed the murder - four ordinary people who have to make up their minds whether they are brave enough to testify in court.  The murderers are well-known gang members, if they, or their cronies discover the witnesses identity, then they are looking at a death sentance.
The story of each witness; Fiona, a midwife; Mike, a delivery driver; Cheryl, a young single mum and Zak, a homeless guy is very well told.  Each witness has their own reasons for wanting the murderers put behind bars, just as they each have a reason as to why it may be easier to keep quiet.  As the story unfolds, the reader starts to learn more and more about each witness, their individual stories are just as interesting and compelling as the main murder story.
There is no doubt that Cath Staincliffe has done lots of research in this area.  I was a volunteer with Victim Support for a few years and often worked closely with the Witness Service volunteers and I could identify with some of the situations described.
This is an excellent story, tense and quite emotional in places, with excellent characters who really do seem realistic.
I'd like to say a huge thanks to Emily and Jamie at Constable & Robinson who are very kind to me and gave me the opportunity of reviewing this book.

Cath Staincliffe is a best selling, award winning novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV's hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. 

Cath's books have been short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association best first novel award and for the Dagger in the Library and selected as Le Masque de l'Année. 

In 2012 Cath won the CWA Short Story Dagger for Laptop, sharing the prize with Margaret Murphy with her story The Message. Both stories featured in Best Eaten Cold, a Murder Squad anthology. Cath was shortlisted again with Night Nurse in 2014. 

Cath's Sal Kilkenny private eye series features a single-parent sleuth working the mean streets of Manchester. Trio, a stand-alone novel moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s, inspired by Cath's own experience. 

Cath's latest stand alone book, Letters To My Daughter's Killer, exposes the aftermath of violent crime for an ordinary family and explores fundamental questions of crime and punishment and whether it is possible to forgive. Letters To My Daughter's Killer was selected for Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club in 2014 and featured on ITV3s Crime Thriller Club. 

Ruthless is Cath's third novel based on the popular Scott & Bailey UK TV series. Cath is one of the founding members of Murder Squad - a group of Northern crime writers who give readings, talks and signings around the country. Cath was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, UK and now lives in Manchester, Lancashire with her family. 

You can follow her on Twitter, @CathStaincliffe, which she does when she should be busy writing!

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