A thriller, an indictment of the British legal system and a story of a personal struggle, there is so much going on in this contemporary novel it draws the reader in and keeps her there! Sophie Angel is a young barrister with quite a reputation despite her relative inexperience. She is dedicated, involved and determined to do a good job for her clients as she is mainly involved in defence work. She has worked out how to get the most from the evidence, how to approach clients and enjoys appearing in court. Despite all this, she has her problems. Like many younger barristers she is not on a guaranteed income, and has to pick up smaller cases to ensure she has enough to pay her bills. That is why she is a “Night Lawyer”, sitting in a national newspaper office on one night a week checking the text of the newspaper for libel before it is published. She is married to Theo, a star of the barristers’ chambers, a recent QC who is building his practice. He has secrets, and dictates a lot of what they do as a couple and how she should improve her career. When she gets involved in a difficult case, she begins to struggle with doubts, especially as her past life as a small child in Russia is beginning to haunt her nightmares. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this engaging and complex novel with real depth.
The book opens with a Prologue which details what Sophie feels as she sits alone in the newspaper office alone, overlooking London by night. She has been told of a young man who she met and rejected as someone she could defend in court, given her strong suspicion that he has admitted his guilt. He is reported to be looking for her, which she puts on one side as another worry. The action then reverts to three months earlier. As Sophie narrates her story, she puts in a lot of information about the contemporary life of a barrister, some of the rules, the clothes and traditions that have grown up over the years. She also points out the limitations and systematic problems in today’s legal system, with particular crimes receiving a lot of attention. As she struggles with her daily work, she becomes suspicious of her husband’s behaviour, which puts pressure on her work as well. When she meets another Russian emigre, she begins to realise that her relationship with her Russian father and her parents’ flight from the country are affecting her life.
This book has great depth and more as the real life problems of a young lawyer are exposed. While Sophie enjoys the tradition behind her job, the discrimination against women is still painful. This book is obviously written from a position of real knowledge and experience, and the construction of the multilayered plot is well handled. I found it engaging and gripping, as the tension builds up throughout the book, and simply could not put it down. This is a fiercely effective book of a woman’s contemporary experience written into fiction, and I really recommend it.
One of the things I am enjoying at the moment is to review a real mixture of books – from brand new books to classics, via fairly recent books. It seems as though there will be a lot of new books coming out in September, part of the result of later publication delayed from the last few months. I can already see it will be a busy time. Are you looking forward to particular books coming out in the near future?