Some years ago I read a Peter Murphy book, Test of Resolve which I liked very much. I was delighted to revisit his work with this latest fiction, a court room procedural, the fifth novel featuring lawyer Ben Schroeder. This is the first in the series that I have read but it was perfectly accessible as a stand alone story.
The book deals with a murder case and subsequent trial with a sub story featuring the presiding judge that ultimately turns out to have a tenuous link to the case.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I marvelled at the legal process and the protocols that the legal profession follow to reach what is, hopefully, justice.
For me, the main character in this book is not, as you might expect, the lawyers, solicitors, judges, defendants, accused, no, it was the actual CASE itself! Everyone else were accessories, characters there with their parts to play in the tale and the legal proceedings. So it was hard, unnecessary even, to engage with many of the characters. Few had any endearing qualities and seemed two dimensional.
I fervently hope that this was the intention of the writer. If so, it was cleverly done, allowing the case to dominate and urging the reader to seek for the truth and for justice and concerning themselves wholly, with the ultimate verdict. If this was not the intention then all I have written about the characters may be interpreted as criticism. So be it!
Arguably the sub plot concerning the judge was more character driven but, even so, the characters did not invite us to engage with or even like them. They remained functional rather than personable.
The plot was tight, well constructed and well researched in all aspects not just the dominant legal ones. The writing is competent and confident.
The conclusion was enigmatic and slightly anti climactic after the urgent need for the reader to know the verdict.
But, is this is a good book? Not for me to judge (pun absolutely intended!). How about you read it ?