Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Gary Bell
Didn’t know you were in the mood for a legal thriller? Legal thrillers can be terrific reading sorbets when you are longing for a bit of law and order in your crime fiction reading. BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT fits the bill in spades.
Elliot Rook always knew that one of the knockabout lads from his home town would seek him out later in life. This was always going to be problematic. Elliot was, after all, up to all sorts of no good right along with them as a youth, when being young was a drug all of its own. When a young woman is murdered in Rook’s home town, the eyes of the local police quickly turn to Billy Barber, local ageing thug and well known for being an outspoken white supremacist. The murder victim is of Middle Eastern origin, and sadly it seems that no one is missing her.
With the accused demanding he be represented by his old chum Rook, the threat of exposure is not what makes Rook agree to be Barber’s defense. Rook’s past is firmly in the past, though some of his colleagues in law perhaps suspect that he is not in fact an old Etonian, like themselves. Taking on the brilliant apprentice Zara Barnes to assist, Rook begins to see the wheels of justice turning anew through Zara’s fresh and not yet jaundiced eyes. Assisting the totally unlikable Barber may turn out to be the best thing for Rook to begin paying back for the opportunities that took him from a life of petty crime and into the hallowed halls of the British legal system – only now, from the preferred side of the bench.
The blurbs for BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT mention deep dark secrets lurking in the youthful past of QC Elliot Rook. This engaging novel is not really that dark a read, rather more warm and affectionate in tone. Author Gary Bell is completely at ease with his audience and as with all legal thrillers, there is a comfort to be taken in the narrator guiding the reader through the process. We are tucked up close here. Rook is someone who has pushed through and moved well along from his origin story as a small town lout that would seem to have been destined to marry and die in the same small town. This character arc is drawn closely from the life of the author, who became a lawyer later in life and ended up far from where his formative years crafted him.
You get the impression that the author would probably shudder to see this novel as any kind of cautionary or teaching novel but it does manage to do both of those things to a certain…ahem, degree. BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT has a terrific sense of pace and give you the sense that you are striding along behind Elliot Rook, seeing what he sees, feeling his frustrations and sharing his hopes that he will not only find justice for the deceased, but also fulfil his brief.
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT is the first book in a new crime series featuring Elliot Rook, QC. Author Gary Bell became a QC himself in 2012 after a previous career of such varied job roles as that of professional chef and music journalist.
The start of a fantastic new legal series, perfect for fans of Robert Galbraith, written by an acclaimed QC Elliot Rook is the epitome of a highly successful, old-Etonian QC. Or so everyone believes. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. Until now... An unidentified young woman of Middle Eastern origin has been found murdered on the outskirts of Rook's home town. Billy Barber - a violent football hooligan and white-supremacist - is accused of her murder. Barber insists that Rook must defend him. If Rook refuses, Barber will expose him, bringing crashing to the ground the life and career that Rook has spent his life building. The truth is there for the finding. But at what cost?