25.1.12

Book recommendation: 'A Certain Justice' by P D James


Although A Certain Justice begins with news of a murder, the victim isn't set to die for another four weeks. Publicly respected but privately loathed, Venetia Aldridge has far more enemies than a brilliant London criminal lawyer should--and at least one of them is determined to do her in. Venetia plies her superior trade in courts that harbour "the illusion that the passions of men were susceptible to order and control," but her past and private life are exceedingly unruly. Her married lover is intent on giving her up; her daughter loathes her; her fellow barristers are determined that she not become the next head of chambers. Even the cleaning woman seems to have something on her. The outline alone of this complex novel would take pages (as would the eclectic inventory of players), but P. D. James makes us admire far more than her brilliantly developed plot. James in fact creates a crowded gallery of surprisingly decent suspects, along with one suitably vile creature--who happens to be Aldridge's last client. A superior murder mystery, A Certain Justice is also a gripping anatomy of wild justice. James's characters can be overcome by hate, but she is equally concerned with love's manifestations--human, divine, destructive, and healing.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

19.1.12

Mulberry Finch review the BabyBarista series of books


Very many thanks to Henry Oliver at Mulberry Finch for reviewing my book Law and Peace. You can read the review  Mulberry Finch   or below. You can buy the book on amazon.

"If you want to relax on Boxing Day by laughing at your lawyer (a great way to let all that pent-up anger out), then you can’t do better than reading Tim Kevan’s excellent Baby Barista books. For those who are as yet uninitiated, this is the latest addition the twentieth/twenty-first century genre of legal fiction. Rumpole is the most well known, having been made into a television series; and at the other, more serious end of the scale, is the set of novels about an Edwardian family headed by a City solicitor, The Forsyte Saga. (People interested in more details of legal fiction can find a good selection in this blog by Simon Myerson.) Writing and the bar go hand in hand: John Mortimer and John Galsworthy were both at the bar; one wrote because he hated it, the other because he couldn’t get any briefs. Tim Kevan has had an altogether more successful legal career. He practised for ten years, being described as having “an unsurpassed knowledge of the law.” But he now lives by the sea. His day job, as well as running a legal training business, is to write brief sketches for his blog (published by The Guardian). The best recent example is his wonderful skit on Collective Nouns for Lawyers. Whether he was disenchanted with law, or compelled to write doesn’t matter. He is seriously funny. Like all the best comic novels the real wit comes from the trumped-up but still accurate  dialogue. The main character is our duplicitous narrator: he looks and sounds like an innocent, struggling but ambitious, young lawyer. We instinctively sympathise with the perils of the bar faced by young pupils, and want our hero to succeed whatever the cost. But we realise that the cost is high. He is not as green as he looks: devious schemes, and underhand tactics, cheating, and getting through scrapes provide all the fun and thrills in the plot. And it is all held together in the great non-villain of the lead character. Even his young, innocent name (Baby Barista), which is misspelled so as to try and emphasise a complete lack of malevolence in his character, is an act of deceit; it hides his ability to be devastatingly self-interested. But good for him we cheer! He is surrounded by greedy, grasping, horrid lawyers, all of them as cunning and mendacious as he is – but not as likeable. This is a well paced, crisply written, funny book that shows the gloomy side of the law without being cynical or ignoring the better bits. If you’ve ever sympathised with Shakespeare when he said, “First thing we do? Let’s kill all the lawyers!” then this pair of novels is the perfect stocking filler for you."

18.1.12

Book recommendation: 'Wind, Sand and Stars' by Antoine Saint-Exupery


In 1926 de Saint-Exupéry began flying for the pioneering airline Latécoère - later known as Aéropostale - opening up the first mail routes across the Sahara and the Andes. WIND, SAND AND STARS is drawn from this experience. Interweaving encounters with nomadic Arabs and other adventures into a richly textured autobiographical narrative which includes the extraordinary story of his crash in the Libyan Desert in 1936, and his miraculous survival. 'Self-discovery comes when a man measures himself against an obstacle,' writes Saint-Exupéry. This book he explores the transcendent perceptions that arise when life is tested to its limits. Both a gripping tale of adventure and a poetic meditation.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

12.1.12

Law and Peace reviewed at RollOnFriday


Very many thanks to Laura at RollOnFriday for reviewing my book Law and Peace. You can read the review here or below. You can buy the book on amazon.

"Former barrister Tim Kevan's follow up to last year's Law and Disorder, provides the next instalment  in the life of fictional junior barrister BabyB. Having schemed and plotted his way to tenancy, BabyB discovers that keeping his nose out of trouble now he is a fully-fledged member of chambers is easier said than done.

Still struggling with pressing financial problems (readers of Law and Disorder will remember that BabyB's poor old Ma risked bankruptcy to put him through law school), BabyB is put to work on a case involving pensioners with ASBOs. Before long he's back to his old tricks and when an unscrupulous solicitor, SlipperySlope, offers him a way out of his impecuniosity he (with few qualms) merrily jumps into a world of blackmail and insider trading.

There are dodgy dealings, financial misdoings, ridiculous courtroom capers and even a love story as BabyB realises he must win the heart of his best friend. The book is certainly a hectic scramble through some of the more implausible practices of the bar but that's the joy of it. It's a fun, frivolous, funny page-turner and you know it's all going to turn out fine in the end."

11.1.12

Book recommendation: 'The Fear Index' by Robert Harris


"As in Frankenstein, an over-reaching scientist finds himself desperately battling to destroy what he's created. Depicting all this with sardonic relish, Harris switches the high-tension techniques that give his thrillers their heart-pounding suspense into black comic mode... The Fear Index is both cutting edge and keenly conscious of its literary predecessors... a tour-de-force."--The Sunday Times

"Like all Harris' books, this one is readily enjoyable as a suspense story... But what makes Harris' thrillers so much more rewarding than those of his rivals is that they all... come out of his deep and expert interest in politics, broadly conceived--which is to say, in power, in how power is taken, held and lost; how some people are able to dominate others; how wealth and status, fear and greed, work... The Fear Index... is ultimately a study in the total lack of morality of those who manipulate the markets . . . in its own carefully conceived terms, The Fear Index is certainly another winner."--Evening Standard

"Harris is a master of pace and entertainment, and The Fear Index is a thoroughly enjoyable book... Read the book. If I die tomorrow, blame the computer."--The Observer

"A fine dystopian parable, especially impressive for the fact that instead of giving up on what really goes on in most banks and hedge funds and making them a mere back drop for money-laundering and ancillary skulduggery, as many thriller-writers have done, his heart of darkness is the thing itself. The drama contains, as he notes in the acknowledgments, 'Gothic flights of fantasy'--the story reminiscent of everyone from Michael Crichton to Ian Fleming, Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock. Yet there is an uncomfortable core of reality there... Quite a few Financial Times readers will, I suspect, not only savour The Fear Index, but wince with recognition."--Financial Times

Available from Amazon.co.uk

4.1.12

Book recommendation: 'The Warden' by Anthony Trollope


The book centers on the character of Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity, whose charitable income far exceeds the purpose for which it was intended. Young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he considers to be an abuse of privilege, despite being in love with Mr. Harding's daughter Eleanor. The novel was highly topical as a case regarding the misapplication of church funds was the scandalous subject of contemporary debate. But Trollope uses this specific case to explore and illuminate the universal complexities of human motivation and social morality. This edition includes an introduction and notes by David Skilton and illustrations by Edward Ardizzone.

Available from Amazon.co.uk