The start of a fantastic new legal series, perfect for fans of Robert Galbraith, written by an acclaimed QC Elliot Rook is the epitome of a highly successful, old-Etonian QC. Or so everyone believes. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. Until now… An unidentified young woman of Middle Eastern origin has been found murdered on the outskirts of Rook’s home town. Billy Barber – a violent football hooligan and white-supremacist – is accused of her murder. Barber insists that Rook must defend him. If Rook refuses, Barber will expose him, bringing crashing to the ground the life and career that Rook has spent his life building. The truth is there for the finding. But at what cost?
Disclaimer: I received a physical ARC of the book from Bloomsbury India in exchange for an honest review! However, the thoughts, opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own.
This is the first book in what I hope, actually I have high expectations, a series of brilliant legal thrillers in the coming future from the author, Gary Bell ( I have my eye on you siree!).
BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, features Elliot Rook, a successful barrister at a law first, Muller and Stubbs Chambers. He has had considerable success as the Queen’s Counsel, basically a defence lawyer – his past though is a closely guarded secret – in fact, his mentor is the only person in his professional life, who knows his exact origins; that his past isn’t as respectable as his other colleagues believe it to be.
Rook’s past, however, refuses to stay in its rightful place, when he is blackmailed into defending a murder suspect in what appears to be an easy case for the prosecution. This comes at a time when his own personal life is in shambles (he is going through a divorce) and is also in the middle of another case that is turning out to be way more complicated than he had expected, not just because of the mountain of paperwork he has to sift through.
Now, he has no choice but to defend this man, a blast from the past in a horrific crime – an unidentified body of a 16 year old girl with Middle Eastern Origins was found, brutally tortured near the old railway lines in the mining town of Cograve – Rook’s place of origins.
To help out with the overwhelming caseload, he hires a new lawyer, a junior to help on cases – Zara Barnes – I will immediately be clear here; there is no hint of romance or impropriety between them; in fact Zara, reminds Elliot of the young man he used to be, the ambitious one, the righteous one and even though Zara is supposed to be helping out in the case he had to put aside due to the murder one, he still somehow ropes her in top helping him out with the Murder Case.
Billy Barber, the murder suspect and the one blackmailing Rook to be his lawyer, is an uncouth individual with narcissistic and racist attitude, along with a history of criminal charges as long as one’s arms. There should be no doubt of his guilt – in fact, I went into the book, believing in his guilt and I think that’s what made the whole book one heck of a roller coaster ride.
I absolutely adored the interactions between Rook & Rookie (Zara) – here is an instant connection of sorts; even though there is a considerable age difference between them; they work smoothly with each other as if they had been partners for more than just a few moments. Their similar histories made it easier for both of them to open up.
Besides the Rook and Rookie’s relationship; the plot was brilliantly strategized – it held my attention through all the twists and turns and the climax along with revelations were some that I did not see coming; the end of the book, left me slack jawed more than I had actually expected or even imagined.
Elliot Rook and Zara Barnes are two characters I have invested myself in; and the author Gary Bell has been put on my watchlist – here’s to me hoping and praying that more books are in this series than I could ever hope devour in the near future!