Fade to Grey by John Lincoln – the story of the “Last Resort Legals” of Wales…

A team of people that call themselves “Last Resort Legals” may well represent a desperate crew, and in some ways they are indeed a faint hope. Happily there is a sense of humour and some continual optimism which runs throughout this book which lifts it out of the sad or humdrum, and the characters represent some recognisable people in difficult circumstances very well. The plot executes some neat swerves as investigations into several situations are logically pursued using all the possibilities of the twenty – first century; this is a hunt which features online resources and mobile communications to great effect. The value of locality is well developed as well as people’s reactions to organisations and everyday situations as well as dramatic and tense events. I found this book a compelling read and a fascinating insight into the world of paralegal investigations, and I was very excited to be given an early opportunity to read and review this book.

The book begins on a happy note. Gethin Grey is shown arriving in his office in the well described Cardiff Docks area with the knowledge that he has been offered a lucrative job investigating the conviction of a famous activist, Ismail Mohammed or Izma M., who is currently in Gartree Prison. Better still, the investigation is to be bank rolled by Amelia Laverne, star of a cult favourite film. As Gethin and his associates, Lee and Bex swing into action, they follow up some interesting leads reinvestigating the murder of a young woman, Hannah Gold, years before. As the murder took place in Bristol, there is much travelling in this book, which keeps it fresh and not tied to an office. Other characters are introduced; Catriona, Gethin’s wife, and Hattie, his daughter. Deano is a streetwise contact and operative who acts as a part time investigator to great effect, and his discoveries give some leads. As the group investigate the theories and leads which may show the truth, Gethin struggles with his marriage and his addiction. This is a flawed hero or protagonist; it is a sign of the confidence of the writer that he does not give him all the skills necessary that allow him to find this a straightforward case. As Amelia becomes more involved, and the surprises pile up, this book becomes a complex tale of emotions, some violence, and considerable achievement.

This is a book which more than maintained my interest throughout as I tried to keep up with the twists and turns of revelations which came as genuine surprises. There are plenty of references to actual places in Bristol and south Wales, as well as journeys undertaken by various characters. I enjoyed the detail of the people, the small touches of description which make them seem real, the words and style which give vivid impressions of their individual styles. There are several descriptions of the cases which the group have undertaken in the past which give a fascinating background to this novel. At times tense, at times touching, this is a novel which is vibrant, complex and enjoyable.

 

We took ourselves off to the cinema again to see a play again – an NT production of “I’m Not Running”, a David Hare play. Centred on a woman, Pauline Gibson, who has become an Independent M.P in order to save a hospital, it has much to say on women in politics, the Labour Party (brilliant timing!) and the battle to change the world. As these showings are at least nationwide, if you get the opportunity to go, it is an incredible production which is highly recommended.