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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Summary Justice by John Fairfax **Blog Tour review**

Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour to celebrate the hardback publication of Summary Justice, on March 2nd. John Fairfax's latest novel introduces a new series of courtroom dramas featuring two maverick lawyers who are driven to fight injustice at any cost. Here's a little about the book:

The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He’d said he was innocent. She’d believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running his own show from an old fishmonger’s in Spitalfields. That night she walks back into Benson’s life. The price of his rehabilitation – and access to the Bar – is an admission of guilt to the killing of Paul Harbeton, whose family have vowed revenge. He’s an outcast. The government wants to shut him down and no solicitor will instruct him. But he’s subsidised by a mystery benefactor and a desperate woman has turned to him for help: Sarah Collingstone, mother of a child with special needs, accused of slaying her wealthy lover. It’s a hopeless case and the murder trial, Benson’s first, starts in four days. The evidence is overwhelming but like Benson long ago, she swears she’s innocent. Tess joins the defence team, determined to help Benson survive. But as Benson follows the twists and turns in the courtroom, Tess embarks upon a secret investigation of her own, determined to uncover the truth behind the death of Paul Harbeton on a lonely night in Soho.

My Thoughts

    Authenticity shines from Summary Justice reflecting the author's previous life as a barrister. All the courtroom sections sound credible, particularly through the voice of the central character, Benson. What an intriguing character he turns out to be. An underdog with dogged determination and a forensically sharp mind, his backstory is fascinating. Just like Tess de Vere, I never knew how much of his story to take at face value.  Despite being looked down on by the Establishment, he uses the law to twist how you regard events. Pragmatic, he swears his innocence yet 'confesses' in order to play the game to get parole. 

    What a cast of characters! I particularly appreciate Benson's prison buddies who add humour in contrast to the more serious courtroom scenes. The author takes us expertly through the series of events, using flashbacks to show us Benson's life in prison. The parallel stories of Benson's alleged crime and the seemingly hopeless case he takes on is striking and makes us doubt quite what can be taken at face value. The plot twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing to the end.  

In short: a satisfying crime mystery with well-matched plot and characters. 

About the Author

John Fairfax is the pen name of William Brodrick who practised as a barrister befor becoming a full-time novelist.  Under his own name he is a previous winner of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award and his first novel was a Richard and Judy Selection.

Thanks to Grace Vincent at Little, Brown Publishers for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour.

Catch up with the rest of the Tour! 


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