My review on Murder At The Bailey is a little different to my norm. It’s a different sort of read for me, and while it took me a little while to get into the style and the pacing etc, I found myself wanting to find out how it would end.
Publisher: Biteback Publishing | Date: 2021 | Genre: Crime/General Fiction
Plot: A notorious loan shark is shot dead, in broad daylight, right outside the front doors of the Old Bailey. The killer is arrested at the scene and Adrian Stanford is lined up to take on the toughest defence case of his career. Can he steer his client past the no-nonsense Detective Chief Superintendent ‘Iron-Rod’ Stokes, hell-bent on achieving a murder conviction in his last case before retirement? That’s assuming he can keep his client alive in prison long enough for the trial to go ahead. Can his illustrious defence QC, Patrick ‘The Edge’ Gorman, swerve the case past the acerbic judge known to all as Mack the Knife, whose own resolve is being tested to the limit by an adulterous wife? And why is London underworld numero uno Big Jake Davenport showing such a keen interest in the proceedings?
A wickedly eccentric cast of brilliantly drawn characters populate this daring debut from one of Britain’s top criminal defence lawyers. Dripping with sparkling dialogue and delicious wit, Murder at the Bailey is a masterly picaresque romp through the courtrooms, custody suites and London restaurants graced by the cognoscenti.
I received Murder At The Bailey from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Murder At The Bailey Review
My first impression of Murder At The Bailey was there were a lot of details. From court proceedings to meals eaten to retrospective character backstories, you know everything (although sometimes in odd orders). But when you consider it’s the debut novel from an actual top lawyer, it falls into place.
This isn’t a who-dun-it, but a what’s-the-fall-out type story. You know from the start exactly what happened. Or, at least, you know who pulled the trigger, even if the why remains hidden. Start bringing in solicitors, police and shady criminals, and the truth gets murkier with every chapter.
The story is the court case of a murder, with the emphasis on the main players rather than the convict. We have the lawyers full of confidence they know how to handle things. They bridge the line between arrogant and confident, and crossed it more than once, but you see the emotional side of them as well.
Then we have the other side of the law. A small-time criminal with a gang and funds to put to use who wants our man to walk free. There’re different layers to Jake. It works not knowing his true motive for funding the case until quite late on – even if that reveal felt like a character dump near the end of the book.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of details here. The reader has three or four pages of backstory to get through in one go, without it always having a real impact on the plot/case. However, you always had the feeling some of the details might prove to be relevant, so it kept you engaged. My main problem with some of these backstories was they felt like information dumps at random points in the narration, not always at times that supported what was going on.
There’re also a lot of details about food – too much at times. I’m not entirely sure what it added other than the author’s knowledge, and to make me feel hungry.
Twists and Turns
One element that really worked for me was that I had no idea what I wanted the outcome to be. You’ve heard the stories and the suspicious of where the truth might have gone astray. There’re various players you want to win/lose. It makes it hard to decide which way you want it to go – which I guess means you can’t be disappointed! It was hard to identify what the truth was.
Murder At The Bailey is an enjoyable read. It’s slow-paced, full of detail and a lot of characters – sometimes too many to keep track of. But it held my attention despite the number of cliches thrown in and I was invested in finding out what happened.
Does this sound like your kind of read? Let me know in the comments!
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One thought on “Murder At The Bailey Review | Henry Milner”
It’s really interesting that you didn’t know what you wanted the outcome to be!