I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis – a contemporary novel of crime and fractured relationships

I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis

Jessica has an idyllic if busy life. Senior partner in a firm of solicitors in Bristol, she specializes in criminal defence, and meets with some interesting people. Married to Tom, a successful barrister, her two children are nearly launched into their adult lives, with only a few wobbles, or possibly more. Known as Jay, she has supportive friends, and has surrounded herself with other lawyers, investigators and secretarial help. Then one day she is asked to take on a new client, one Edward Blake, who is accused of murdering his wife. There is something about this case, among so many others, that stands out. Maybe it is the question of something hidden, a betrayal that is at the heart of the closest of relationships. When her husband utters the words “I have something to tell you”, she begins to realise that she may not only have to defend her client, but also tackle a problem with the person she most trusts – or does she?

This is a gripping novel of law, love and secrets. Jay’s story is the focus of this fascinating legal procedural as the truth of a brutal murder gradually comes to light in the context of contemporary investigation by both the legal team charged with the defence of a wealthy client who maintains his innocence, and the police. The case is placed squarely in the midst of the context of the difficult relationship between Jay and Tom from Jay’s point of view, as she tries to second guess what will happen in a relationship which is already cracked. I found both elements of the novel really engaging, as Lewis skillfully increases the tension on several fronts. She also creates a good sense of place, in the contrast between interview rooms and country homes, the backgrounds of the wealthy in sharp contrast to the isolation of imprisonment. The greatest achievement of this book is undoubtedly the characters, as they range from Jay’s outward control and inward doubts to the quiet stoicism of Edward Blake with an underlying desperation, with the temperamental Tom to the friends who offer support. I found myself totally engaged with this well written novel, with surprises and twists to maintain interest. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this enjoyable book.

The book opens with Jay engaged in a normal working day of papers, files and calls when she is alerted to a call from Detective Inspector Ken Bright. She has a lot of respect for this particular police officer as a result of previous encounters. The basic facts are that Edward Blake is thirty – nine and arrested on suspicion of killing his wife at their home. He does fit anyone’s expectations as he is a property developer and architect with substantial resources and a seemingly ideal life. As Jay meets Blake she discovers that he is a quietly charismatic man with secrets that go beyond his current situation. She is also suddenly afflicted with memories of a situation that she is still trying to process, to forgive as forgetting is impossible.

This is an intense and powerful read that makes the most of impressive research into how criminal defence lawyers work which is seamlessly woven into the narrative. It is a clever book which introduces information and surprises in a well-timed way. The relationship between Jay and her husband is brilliantly described as well as the context of family and friends. The central mystery is unraveled in such a clever way in the setting of the book that it marks this book out as a memorable read. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy reading about contemporary crime in very realistic settings.

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