Review by Kathleen Jones:
BY TIM VICARY
If you like courtroom dramas and police procedurals you’ll enjoy this crime novel, because it contains elements of both. And there’s an interesting central character, Sarah Newby, who has become a barrister despite dropping out of school at 16 to have a baby. She’s strong and feisty, but also a workaholic and human relationships are inclined to suffer when she’s involved in a case. There are times when she has neglected her children and her husband in pursuit of justice for someone she’s representing.
This is the third in the Sarah Newby case sequence, after A Game of Proof and Fatal Verdict. Although I hadn’t read the others, I found it didn’t matter. Bold Counsel stands alone and is very readable – a strong plot with well-drawn characters and a lot more personal detail than you normally get in a thriller.
The book begins with what appear to be unrelated episodes – a fox digs up old bones which are found by a small boy; in London Sarah is fighting in the Appeal Court for the release of a man who has been in jail for 18 years convicted of a murder he claims he didn’t commit. Meanwhile Sarah’s youngest child, who has just left home to go to university, is experiencing problems, and Sarah’s marriage is crumbling. Her personal and professional lives are further complicated by the fact that she’s also the object of competing male desire. A young, recently widowed detective, involved in tracking down the perpetrator of a series of sexual assaults on lone women, is seriously attracted to Sarah. And then there is the property developer she meets on the train, but isn’t sure that she can trust. Gradually all the separate elements merge together into a complex plot and it becomes clear to the reader that Sarah’s judgement is compromised and her life is in danger.
Tim got the idea for the Sarah Newby novels from a court case and an item in the local paper. He taught English to foreign university students and occasionally took them to the Crown Court to see English justice in action. One afternoon he watched a rape case being heard, knowing, from court scenes the jury weren’t allowed to see, that the accused had previously been acquitted on similar charges and was acknowledged, even by his barrister, to be guilty. Nevertheless the man was acquitted again. Angered by the humiliation and distress of the victims, Tim felt that it was something he wanted to write about. A newspaper cutting, telling the story of a young girl who had become a barrister, despite dropping out of school at 16, gave him the idea for his heroine and he began to write The Trials of Sarah Newby.
The first novel in this series, A Game of Proof, was traditionally published by Constable and Robinson as part of their crime catalogue, but Tim Vicary made the decision to go into Indie publishing with the sequel Fatal Verdict and again with the third novel Bold Counsel. He has also re-issued A Game of Proof as an e-book. Bold Counsel was a very interesting read and it has made me want to read the others. And if I was ever in trouble, Sarah Newby is the lawyer I’d want to see on the front bench representing me!