Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Book recommendation: Dictator by Robert Harris

There was a time when Cicero held Caesar’s life in the palm of his hand. But now Caesar is the dominant figure and Cicero’s life is in ruins. Exiled, separated from his wife and children, his possessions confiscated, his life constantly in danger, Cicero is tormented by the knowledge that he has sacrificed power for the sake of his principles. His comeback requires wit, skill and courage – and for a brief and glorious period, the legendary orator is once more the supreme senator in Rome. But politics is never static and no statesman, however cunning, can safeguard against the ambition and corruption of others. Riveting and tumultuous, DICTATOR encompasses some of the most epic events in human history yet is also an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave man – a hero for his time and for ours. This is an unforgettable tour de force from a master storyteller. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book recommendation: Rumpole at Christmas by John Mortimer

Rumpole at Christmas - the hilarious festive stories of John Mortimer's greatest character. Horace Rumpole is not overfond of the rituals of Christmas: turkey, tinsel and the like. But happily the festive season is not one respected by the criminal fraternity; meaning that celebrations in the Rumpole household are frequently disturbed in most-welcome ways. There's the suspicious Father Christmas at Equity's Court's festive party. The actor who goes missing from the panto on the night of a major crime. As well as the body cluttering up the health farm (where the great barrister is gloomily restricted to a diet of yak's milk and steamed spinach to please She Who Must Be Obeyed). These seven wonderful Rumpole stories show the great man at his sharpest, wittiest and best. Readers of Sherlock Holmes, P.D. James and P.G. Wodehouse will love this book. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book recommendation: Death by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis

Death by Dangerous is a compelling legal thriller set in Manchester and Bradford. John Anderson is one of the North West's most dedicated and successful prosecution barristers. His career is going from strength to strength and he is on the verge of becoming Queen's Counsel. But the life he once knew suddenly comes crashing down following a fatal road traffic accident...Recovering from his injuries, he has no memory of the collision. Was he responsible for the death of a child? Who was his female passenger? Facing charges of causing death by dangerous driving, the professional and personal life he once knew now lies in tatters. Depressed and taking refuge in alcohol, Anderson refuses, in the face of so many unanswered questions, to accept his guilt. He becomes convinced that the gangster he was prosecuting at the time of the crash is in some way involved. The mystery deepens as his search for the truth draws him into Manchester's sordid criminal underworld. Shunned by his former colleagues, Anderson finds help from an unlikely source, enabling him to confront his prejudices and re-evaluate his past life. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery and, ultimately, the path for his own redemption. Anderson knows that defeat means deliverance to a prison full of violent criminals he has prosecuted over the years. He now has to find the strength to fight the most important trial of his life. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book recommendation: The Crossing (Harry Bosch 20) by Michael Connelly

Six months ago, Harry Bosch left the LAPD before they could fire him, and then hired maverick Defense Attorney Mickey Haller to sue the department for forcing him out. Although it wasn't the way he wanted to go, Harry has to admit that being out of the game has its benefits. Until Mickey asks him to help on one of his cases, and suddenly Harry is back where he belongs, right in the centre of a particularly puzzling murder mystery. The difference is, this time Harry is working for the defense, aiming to prevent the accused, Leland Foster, from being convicted. And not only does the prosecution seem to have a cast-iron case, but having crossed over to 'the dark side' as his former colleagues would put it, Harry is in danger of betraying the very principles he's lived by his whole career. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Book recommendation: Animal QC : My Preposterous Life by Gary Bell

GARY BELL QC appears to be a pillar of the Establishment - one of Britain's leading lawyers, with his own BBC TV show, an entry in Who's Who, and a wife whose family are listed in Burke's Landed Gentry. But beneath the horsehair wig and silk gown is a very unusual barrister indeed - and his life story is astonishing and hilarious. Born to a teenaged cigarette factory worker and a nineteen-year-old miner, he grew up in a condemned slum terrace and then a Nottinghamshire pit village, and left his tough comprehensive without taking any exams. He followed his father down the mine but promptly quit because of his lifelong fear of the dark, and spent the next decade either homeless or working in a strange variety of jobs. Asda shelf-stacker, Pork Farms pie maker, door-to-door rag salesman, fruit machine technician, fireman, lawnmower mechanic, bricklayer, pet food warehouse fork lift truck driver… he's done the lot (and was sacked from most of them for incompetence). Along the way, he managed to rack up a conviction for fraud - he worked out how to fiddle those fruit machines - and was also a notorious football hooligan known as 'Animal' (though not for his fighting prowess, he's a terrible coward). Finally pulling himself together in his mid-twenties, he went to university as a mature student, where he stuck out from his younger, public school-educated contemporaries with his stonewashed jeans, skinhead and moustache. So he 'decided to become upper-middle class', adopting tweeds, received pronunciation, and (strictly for his own amusement) an Old Etonian back story. He got so good at this that he went back to his 'old school' to play in Old Boys' Field Game fixtures, and many actual OEs still swear they were at Eton with him. There's much more to say about Gary Bell - international debating champion, award-winning stand-up comic, Beverly Hills lawyer (he was recruited whilst still a student), chronic bedwetter, private pilot, friend of The Village People, devoted dad - but there isn't the space. Now among the country's top defence barristers - his cases are so complex that the papers are not counted but weighed, and they often weigh ten or fifteen tonnes - his preposterous story reads like a strange dream and redefines the word 'amazing', as well as being extremely funny, very moving, and utterly life-affirming. Available from Amazon.