2 January 2014

Review: BLOOD FROM STONE, Frances Fyfield

  • format Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 381 KB
  • Print Length: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (October 4, 2012)
    originally published 2008
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EOA324
Synopsis (Amazon)

When the body of a successful criminal barrister is found outside a chic Kensington hotel, it looks at first like a suicide. For colleagues and friends, her death comes as a huge shock - Marianne Shearer was at the pinnacle of her career, wealthy and stylish - but for the police the case is open-and-shut.

There's something strange about the circumstances, though, something that prompts fellow lawyers Thomas Nobel and Peter Friel to dig deeper. Little by little, they discover that all is not as it seems. Oddly enough, Marianne herself appears to have left a series of small, almost imperceptible clues - clues that point to a far more sinister truth. Retracing Marianne's steps, Nobel and Friel uncover a carefully concealed darker side of her perfect life that leads them back to her last, gruesome case - when she knowingly sacrificed an innocent witness to let a criminal walk free.

From the author's site

Marianne Shearer is at the height of her career, a dauntingly successful barrister, respected by her peers and revered by her clients.  So why has she killed herself?  Her latest case had again resulted in an acquittal, though the outcome was principally due to  the death of the prime witness after Marianne's forceful cross-examination.  Had this wholly professional and unemotional lawyer been struck by guilt or uncertainty, or is there some secret to be discovered in her blandly comfortable private life? Her death reveals a paucity of friends, a grasping brother and a tenacious colleague, Peter Friel, who is determined to find out if that last trial held the reason for her taking her own life. The transcript holds intriguing clues, but it is another witness at the trial who holds the key to the truth and she is far from sure that she can reveal her secrets without releasing even more deceit and destruction.

My Take.

BLOOD FROM STONE was chosen for discussion by my face-to-face book group. It was also the winner of the 2008 Duncan Lawrie award for Crime Writers Association best novel of the year.

Apart from the enthralling story, the novel raises some ethical questions about defendants who are allowed to walk free because their lawyer was clever, not because they were innocent.

It is hard to imagine anyone more evil than the Defendant, Rick West. There was plenty of evidence of previous instances where he had mistreated women. But two previous victims were not available to give evidence and then Marianne Shearer caustically and methodically destroyed the victim in the witness box. But Rick West didn't get his day in court because the case was dismissed when the victim died. And more than anything he wanted his innocence declared. Is this justice?

When things become personal Marianne Shearer realises the truth of what she has done and she can see only one way out.

I realised the "truth" about 2/3 of the way through the novel but that didn't limit my enjoyment.

My rating: 4.6

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