gervase_fen: (ermine)
[personal profile] gervase_fen
From the back cover of my 1981 US reprint edition : “Marion Kerrison is a young and inexperienced lawyer who is given as her first important assignment the defense of a shady character named John Maudsley who is charged with murder on apparently unassailable grounds. It’s odds-on that her client will be convicted. But if Marion is inexperienced, she is also brilliant, and she brings to her profession insights and a flair for reality that transcend the usual rules of evidence. Guilty or innocent? Will Maudsley hang?”

I thoroughly enjoyed this legal thriller, which follows tyro barrister Marion Kerrison as she joins provincial chambers somewhere in Yorkshire (Sheffield perhaps), dealing with the prejudices of colleagues, superiors, and the Bench. She’s seen through the eyes of fellow junior Michael Irvine, who wittily sketches the traditions and characters of life in Chambers – mess dinners, the enthusiastic clerk of the practice, the gossip in the Robing Room. Grierson’s at his best describing the minutiae of the trial, with reversals, revelations, and interventions from the Judge. There’s also an interesting wrinkle to the case – the accused is a chippy, chiselling liar, changing his story several times as the police (and his defence team’s own private detective) conduct further enquiries.

It’s a shame that’s there’s no current UK edition of this, as the American text makes a few substitutions for the home market. I didn’t mind snooker being played for ‘half a dollar’, but I would like to know where to find the road house that Marion and Michael stop off at during an interlude in the case. All in all, great fun, and a book that I can imagine Margaret Lockwood reading as research for her role as Harriet Peterson in Justice.

This won the CWA “Crossed Herrings” Dagger Award in 1956, beating out this intriguing debut novel by Sarah Gainham, the second ever Gideon of the Yard, and Arthur Upfield’s twenty first Inspector Bonaparte book.
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