When NetGalley offered me an ARC of Rob (Judge) Rinder’s debut novel, I jumped at the chance! Whilst I’d been aware of Judge Rinder on TV, I’d never watched an episode of his eponymous show (despite knowing someone who appeared in one #randomfact) – but really liked him on Strictly. I’ve also enjoyed his partnership with Susanna Reid as a guest presenter on Good Morning Britain (more of Susanna shortly!) and his eloquent campaigning on Twitter – so I had high expectations of the book.
For anyone not just tempted by the author – here’s the blurb:
“An unputdownable murder mystery by Britain’s best-loved criminal barrister Rob Rinder.
ONE MURDER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE CASE. WHO IS GUILTY?
When hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey, it threatens to shake the country to its core.
The evidence points to one man. Jimmy Knight has been convicted of multiple offences before and defending him will be no easy task. Not least because this is trainee barrister Adam Green’s first case.
But it will quickly become clear that Jimmy Knight is not the only person in Cliveden’s past with an axe to grind.
The only thing that’s certain is that this is a trial which will push Adam – and the justice system itself – to the limit . . .”
The book is told from Adam Green’s point of view – he’s a Jewish trainee barrister – so the author is sticking with what he knows. Adam is a pupil at a London chambers – and is in competition with another pupil to be taken on as a permanent barrister – so there is a lot at stake with each case over and above how the client gets on.
The setting reminded me a lot of the BBC TV drama ‘Silks’ – and this is not a bad thing, as I loved the programme and was gutted when it was cancelled a decade ago. (Admittedly my love was potentially heightened because Rupert Penry-Jones is on my laminated list!) I’m guessing as both the TV series and this book are written by people with experience of the legal profession, every chambers has an aggressive Head Clerk who basically rules the roost, competitive pupils (with a love / hate relationship), slightly lazy but well connected senior barristers – and lots of ‘marketing’ (excessive drinking and copping off out of hours!)
Having had mostly dull boring straightforward cases – suddenly Adam finds himself in the midst of a murder trial and a financial fraud trial. Both of these are working for his pupil master Jonathan who is not a nice man! He might be a KC (I’m guessing there was a quick ‘find and replace’ QC with KC during the drafting process!) but he is lazy, rude, misogynistic, having multiple affairs and just a total slimeball. He also doesn’t seem bothered with elements of the case against their client, Jimmy Knight, who has been charged with the murder of a high flying policeman – Grant Cliveden.
Adam then does some digging of his own accord – and in his own limited time – into PC Cliveden and Jimmy Knight. The book therefore has a dual pronged story of the legal case itself – and Adam trying to prove what really happened. At the same time the chapters are interspersed with phonecalls between Adam and his mother. She’s busy letting herself into his flat to clean and provide homecooked food – and ‘suggest’ nice Jewish girls for him to marry! I really enjoyed this insight into Adam’s family, and the history between him and his parents is revealed as the book progresses.
It’s very clever and intricate (and I didn’t spot any inconsistencies, and I’m super anal about such stuff!) and has lots of references to current life – I particularly liked the reference to Susannah Reid being attractive, when I know she’s Rob’s Ibiza holidaying and celebrity Gogglebox partner!!
Overall it’s a great combination of legal drama / murder mystery / domestic story – all wrapped up together – and you were rooting for Adam throughout. A fantastic debut novel, and I’d really like to revisit Adam Green in books to come!
A huge thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and Judge Rob Rinder himself for this excellent book. It’s out in June 2023 and I would highly suggest you pre order it now.