Beyond reasonable doubt by Gary Bell QC and Scott Kershaw

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Elliot Rook, QC book 1. Raven Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781526606136. 352pp.
(Age: senior secondary/adult) I have three crime fiction books on the go, but once I picked this up, they were all set aside. Elliot Rook, fifty or so years old, a QC in a prestigious London practice, a successful old Etonian, is approached by a solicitor who tells him that his client has asked only for him. Billy Barber is an acquaintance from Rook's days in the Midlands, a product of the disgruntled ex coal mining towns in the shadow of Thatcher's Britain, a criminal who blames immigration for Britain's woes. Rook would prefer to forget all his dealings with this man, the brother of his closest friend through school and early adulthood, but Barber knows things about his past and he is forced to represent this racist thug when he is accused of murder. But he will not answer any questions from the police or Rook which forces Rook to make his own inquiries. The Girl was found naked, badly beaten and strangled along a disused railway track, and Barber's phone records tell the police he was nearby. His racist threats, known to all via media posts and action groups outside the mosque, make him a prime suspect.
At a loss to defend his client, Rook and his new junior, Zara Barnes, travel to Cotgrave in Nottinghamshire to trawl through some of his past. Here Zara is reminded of why she wanted to get out of the place, and Rook follows leads into Barber's life which get him almost killed.
A non stop breath taking journey sees all the work done by Rook and Barnes coming together at the Old Bailey, Court Number One, Zara's first case. Here the routines of the courtroom are explained as the case proceeds, making the reader fully aware of just how the system works without being overwhelmed with information. Bell makes it all so readable, so I was thrilled to see that this is the first in a series about the wonderful Elliot Rook a man whose past has implications everyday, making his decision making all that more complex. Themes: Crime fiction, Law courts, Trial, Racism, Prostitution, Trafficking.
Fran Knight