30.12.15

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.

23.12.15

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.

16.12.15

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.

9.12.15

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.

2.12.15

Book recommendation: No Fear Or Favour by Henry Cecil

'If everyone had a perfectly clear conscience, the blackmailer would have no chance'. So begins a trial in which the unfortunate judge is himself blackmailed. Unwittingly 'picked up' by a 'respectable-looking girl' the judge finds himself put into an impossible situation in which an unscrupulous blackmailer threatens his career and personal life in an attempt to steer the course of a trial to an acquittal. Can Mr Justice Slaughter save himself from ruin and degradation? Available from Amazon.

25.11.15

Book recommendation: Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks

On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks, an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer, is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host, and antagonist, is Alexander Pereira, a man whose time is running out, but who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does. The search for sanity takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front. The recurring themes of Sebastian Faulks’s fiction are brought together with a new stylistic brilliance as the novel casts a long, baleful light over the century we have left behind but may never fully understand. Daring, ambitious and in the end profoundly moving, this is Faulks’s most remarkable book yet. Available from Amazon.

18.11.15

Book recommendation: Squeezing the Orange by Henry Blofeld

The quintessentially English cricket commentator, writer, oenophile, bon viveur, collector and national treasure, fondly known as “Blowers”, tells his riveting life story. Born in Norfolk and educated at Eton and Cambridge, Henry Calthorpe Blofeld OBE, nicknamed “Blowers” by the late Brian Johnston, is best known as a cricket commentator for Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. His distinctively rich, cut glass voice and his vividly eccentric observations of life on and off the pitch, have made him a household name, not only in Britain but around the world, wherever cricket is played. Blowers has been close the the heart of the game for over fifty years and his career has taken him to the far corners of the earth. This autobiography, stuffed to the gunwhales with delicious anecdotes, brings his astonishingly colourful story bang up to date. Available from Amazon.

11.11.15

Book recommendation: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

I'm not a typical lawyer. I don't maintain a pretty office filled with mahogany and leather. I don't belong to a big firm, prestigious or otherwise. I don't do good works through the bar association. I'm a lone gunman, a rogue who fights bad systems and hates injustice . . . Sebastian Rudd takes the cases no one else wants to take: the drug-addled punk accused of murdering two little girls; a crime lord on death row; a homeowner who shot at a SWAT team. Rudd believes that every person accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial - even if he has to cheat to get one. He antagonises people from both sides of the law: his last office was firebombed, either by drug dealers or cops. He doesn't know or care which. But things are about to get even more complicated for Sebastian. Arch Swanger is the prime suspect in the abduction and presumed murder of 21-year-old Jiliana Kemp, the daughter of the assistant chief of police. When Swanger asks Sebastian to represent him, he lets Sebastian in on a terrible secret . . . one that will threaten everything Sebastian holds dear. Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer is the master of the legal thriller at his very best. Available from Amazon.

4.11.15

Book recommendation: The Anti-social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole by John Mortimer

The Anti-social Behaviour of Horace Rumpole - a delightful novel starring John Mortimer's iconic character. ASBOs may be the pride and joy of New Labour, but they don't cut much ice with Horace Rumpole - he takes the old-fashioned view that if anyone is going to be threatened with a restriction of their liberty then some form of legal proceeding ought to be gone through first. Not that Hilda agrees, of course, but she's too busy completing her memoirs to dissuade him from taking an interest when one of the Timson children is given an ASBO for playing football in the street. And pretty soon he realises something fishy is going on. Why are the residents pursuing their vendetta against the Timson boy quite so strongly? Could they have a sinister reason for not wanting him on their street? John Mortimer's hilarious Rumpole novel, which fans of Sherlock Holmes and P.G. Wodehouse will love, sees the magician of the Old Bailey at his unpredictable and brilliant best. Available from Amazon.

28.10.15

Book recommendation: Make Me: (Jack Reacher 20) by Lee Child

Jack Reacher has no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so a remote railroad stop on the prairie with the curious name of Mother's Rest seems perfect for an aimless one-day stopover. He expects to find a lonely pioneer tombstone in a sea of nearly-ripe wheat ... but instead there is a woman waiting for a missing colleague, a cryptic note about two hundred deaths, and a small town full of silent, watchful people. Reacher’s one-day stopover becomes an open-ended quest...into the heart of darkness. Prepare to be nailed to your seat by another hair-raising, heart-pounding adventure from the kick ass master of the thriller genre! Available from Amazon.

21.10.15

Book recommendation: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them... A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. You will not be able to put this book down. Available from Amazon.

14.10.15

Book recommendation: Rumpole on Trial by Sir John Mortimer

The most beloved barrister ever to sway a jury--or savor a claret--is back on the case, in an engaging new collection of stories. With his passion for Wordsworth, his kindly disposition toward the underdog, and a nose equally sensitive to wrongdoing and fine wine, the disheveled Horace Rumpole has become "one of the immortals of mystery fiction" (San Francisco Chronicle). Available from Amazon.

7.10.15

Book recommendation: The Dust that Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

In the brief golden years of King Edward VII’s reign, Rosie McCosh and her three very different sisters are growing up in an eccentric household in Kent, with their neighbours the Pitt boys on one side and the Pendennis boys on the other. But their days of childhood adventure are shadowed by the approach of war that will engulf them on the cusp of adulthood. When the boys end up scattered along the Western Front, Rosie faces the challenges of life for those left behind. Confused by her love for two young men - one an infantry soldier and one a flying ace - she has to navigate her way through extraordinary times. Can she, and her sisters, build new lives out of the opportunities and devastations that follow the Great War? Louis de Bernières’ magnificent and moving novel follows the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters as they strike out to seek what happiness can be built from the ruins of the old world. Available from Amazon.

30.9.15

Book recommendation: According To The Evidence (Colonel Brain) by Henry Cecil

Alec Morland is on trial for murder. He has tried to remedy the ineffectiveness of the law by taking matters into his own hands. Unfortunately for him, his alleged crime was not committed in immediate defence of others or of himself. In this fascinating murder trial you will not find out until the very end just how the law will interpret his actions. Will his defence be accepted or does a different fate await him? Available from Amazon.

23.9.15

Book recommendation: Law, Liberty and the Constitution: A Brief History of the Common Law by Harry Potter

Throughout English history the rule of law and the preservation of liberty have been inseparable, and both are intrinsic to England's constitution. This accessible and entertaining history traces the growth of the law from its beginnings in Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. It shows how the law evolved from a means of ensuring order and limiting feuds to become a supremely sophisticated dispenser of justice and the primary guardian of civil liberties. This development owed much to the English kings and their judiciary, who, in the twelfth century, forged a unified system of law - predating that of any other European country - from almost wholly Anglo-Saxon elements. Yet by the seventeenth century this royal offspring - Oedipus Lex it could be called - was capable of regicide. Since then the law has had a somewhat fractious relationship with that institution upon which the regal mantle of supreme power descended, Parliament. This book tells the story of the common law not merely by describing major developments but by concentrating on prominent personalities and decisive cases relating to the constitution, criminal jurisprudence, and civil liberties. It investigates the great constitutional conflicts, the rise of advocacy, and curious and important cases relating to slavery, insanity, obscenity, cannibalism, the death penalty, and miscarriages of justice. The book concludes by examining the extension of the law into the prosecution of war criminals and protection of universal human rights and the threats posed by over-reaction to national emergencies and terrorism. Devoid of jargon and replete with good stories, Law, Liberty and the Constitution represents a new approach to the telling of legal history and will be of interest to anyone wishing to know more about the common law - the spinal cord of the English body politic. Harry Potter is a former fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and a practising barrister specialising in criminal defence. He has authored books on the death penalty and Scottish history and wrote and presented an award-winning series on the history of the common law for the BBC. Available from Amazon.

16.9.15

Book recommendation: The Great Defender: The Life and Trials of Edward Marshall Hall KC, England's Greatest Barrister by Edward Marjoribanks (Author), Gary Bell QC (Introduction)

When Sir Edward Marshall Hall died in 1927 it was the end of an era. Tall, strikingly handsome and charming, the barrister was the finest advocate ever seen in the English criminal courts. Known as 'The Great Defender' as he fought tooth and nail for his clients, those in the shadow of the hangman's noose were often saved from execution by his dramatic and eloquent defence. His closing speeches to rapt juries were legendary and there was never a free seat in the public gallery or on the press bench when he was in the Old Bailey. Marshall Hall did not win every case - the 'brides in the bath' murderer George Smith and poisoner Frederick Seddon were sentenced to death - but not without a fight from the amazing advocate. One of his finest victories came in 1894 when he saved the life of Marie Hermann, a former Austrian governess who had resorted to prostitution to feed her three children, one of whom was blind, after her husband abandoned her. Charged with the murder of an elderly client, even she believed she would be hanged. Marshall Hall gave an impassioned plea to the jury which ended with him, with tears on his cheeks and pointing to her in the dock, begging, 'Look at her, gentlemen of the jury, look at her. God never gave her a chance. Won't you?' They did, and she was found not guilty of murder. Despite success in court, Marshall Hall's personal life was tragic. His first wife, Ethel, whom he adored, informed him on their honeymoon that she could never love him and died in agony following a botched, secret abortion after getting pregnant with her lover's child. This biography, written by his friend Edward Marjoribanks, with an introduction by criminal barrister Gary Bell QC, details many of the advocate's famous trials and his life outside court. Available from Amazon.

9.9.15

Book recommendation: Jeremy Hutchinson's Case Histories: From Lady Chatterley's Lover to Howard Marks by Thomas Grant

Having been born into the fringes of the Bloomsbury Group and served under Louis Mountbatten in the Second World War, Jeremy Hutchinson went on to become the greatest criminal barrister of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. The cases of that period changed society for ever and provide a fascinating look into Britain's post-war social, political and cultural history. Hutchinson's role in them was second to none. From the sex and spying scandals which contributed to Harold Macmillan's resignation in 1963 to the fight against literary censorship through his defence of Lady Chatterley's Lover, Fanny Hill and Last Tango in Paris, Hutchinson was involved in many of the great trials of the period. He also defended George Blake, Christine Keeler, Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson, art faker Tom Keating and Howard Marks. Case Histories provides entertaining, vivid and revealing insights into what was really going on in those celebrated courtroom dramas that defined an age, as well as painting a picture of a remarkable life. Available from Amazon.

2.9.15

Book recommendation: And Is There Honey Still For Tea? by Peter Murphy

1965. The British Establishment is reeling after a series of defections and acts of treachery by high-ranking Intelligence Officers. When American academic Francis Hollander accuses Sir James Digby QC, a Baronet and a leader of the Bar, of being a soviet spy, Digby hires Ben Schroeder to represent him. But when evidence starts piling up of Digby's association with the Cambridge spies, Ben can no longer be sure he will save Digby from prosecution and ruin. Is Ben willing to risk his career to obtain vital evidence? Available from Amazon.

26.8.15

Book recommendation: Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories by John Mortimer

Forever Rumpole - a hilarious new selection of the very best Rumpole stories by John Mortimer. Horace Rumpole lives alongside Mr Pickwick and Bertie Wooster as one of the immortal comic characters in English fiction. With his curmudgeonly wit, his literary allusions, his disdain for personal ambition and his lack of pomposity, he has, in the words of the Daily Telegraph, 'ascended to the pantheon of literary immortals'. Forever Rumpole contains seven stories originally chosen by the author himself as his favourites, together with a further seven from the later period and the opening chapters of a Rumpole novel that Sir John was working on when he died in 2009. The book also includes a fascinating introduction by Ann Mallalieu, fellow lawyer and for many years Sir John's colleague in practice. Available from Amazon.

19.8.15

Book recommendation: Who Governs Britain? by Anthony King

The British system has been radically transformed in recent decades, far more than most of us realise. As acclaimed political scientist and bestselling author Anthony King shows, this transformation lies at the heart of British politics today. Imagining - or pretending - that the British political system and Britain's place in the world have not greatly changed, our political leaders consistently promise more than they can perform. Political and economic power is now widely dispersed both inside and outside the UK, but Westminster politicians still talk the language of Attlee and Churchill. How exactly has the British system changed? Where does power now lie? In Who Governs Britain?, King offers the first assessment in many years of Britain's governing arrangements as a whole, providing much needed context for the 2015 general election. Available from Amazon.

12.8.15

Book recommendation: Magna Carta by Prof David Carpenter

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land." Magna Carta, forced on King John in 1215 by rebellion, is one of the most famous documents in world history. It asserts a fundamental principle: that the ruler is subject to the law. Alongside a new text and translation of the Charter, David Carpenter's commentary draws on new discoveries to give an entirely fresh account of Magna Carta's text, origins, survival and enforcement, showing how it quickly gained a central place in English political life. It also uses Magna Carta as a lens through which to view thirteenth-century society, focusing on women and peasants as well as barons and knights. The book is a landmark in Magna Carta studies. 2015 is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta's creation - an event which will be marked with exhibitions, commemorations and debates in all the countries over whose constitutions and legal assumptions the shadow of Magna Carta hangs. Available from Amazon.

29.7.15

Book recommendation: The Silk Brief (The Silk Tales Book 1) by John Burton

David Brant QC is a newly appointed Queen’s Counsel, a “Silk”, a Criminal Barrister struggling against ever-dwindling legal aid funds and a lack of work. His Chambers is also suffering internal and external pressures and his Senior Clerk seems to only serve a select few. Life at the Bar is more challenging than ever before. His personal life is not much better. Having faced an acrimonious divorce after an inadvisable liaison with a female Solicitor, his life has become a mixture of enforced rest and ever increasing consumption of Claret and Rioja Reserva. However, after a night out with his Senior Clerk, he is instructed to defend in a Murder trial, leading one of the instructing solicitor’s firm’s In-House Barristers. The client is a Mr Damien Clarke, a cocaine addict charged with killing a known associate, Usman Hussain, after a night of smoking crack together in Hussain’s flat. The evidence against Damien appears almost overwhelming and as the case progresses towards trial it is strengthened by further forensic scientific evidence. David Brant QC must use all his forensic skill to combat the array of damning evidence against Damien and to pit his wits against a highly competent Prosecutor and a Judge who has a personal dislike for him. The Silk Brief takes us from before David Brant QC is instructed, through his early preparation of the case and conferences with the client in the High Security Belmarsh prison, through to the trial and verdict. It provides the day by day record of a murder trial including the examination and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, Counsel’s speeches, the Judges summing up and finally the jury’s deliberations and verdict. Although a work of fiction, the author draws extensively on his knowledge of the Criminal Bar of England and Wales, having practiced as a Criminal Barrister for over thirty years, latterly as Queen’s Counsel, conducting many trials, including murder trials in the Central Criminal Court, known colloquially and fondly as “The Old Bailey”. Available from Amazon.

22.7.15

Book recommendation: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel

Is killing sometimes morally required? Is the free market fair? It is sometimes wrong to tell the truth? What is justice, and what does it mean? These and other questions are at the heart of Michael Sandel's Justice. Considering the role of justice in our society and our lives, he reveals how an understanding of philosophy can help to make sense of politics, religion, morality - and our own convictions. Breaking down hotly contested issues, from abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, to patriotism, dissent and affirmative action, Sandel shows how the biggest questions in our civiv life can be broken down and illuminated through reasoned debate. Justice promises to take readers - of all ages and political persuasions - on an exhilarating journey to confront controversies in a fresh and enlightening way. Available from Amazon.

15.7.15

Book recommendation: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. Available from Amazon.

8.7.15

Book recommendation: A Certain Justice (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Book 10) by P.D. James

From P.D. James, one of the masters of British crime fiction comes the tenth novel to feature commander Adam Dalgliesh. A Certain Justice is a chilling murder mystery packed with forensic detail, set in the treacherous legal world of London. Venetia Aldridge QC is a distinguished barrister. When she agrees to defend Garry Ashe, accused of the brutal murder of his aunt, it is one more opportunity to triumph in her distinguished career as a criminal lawyer. But just four weeks later, Miss Aldridge is found dead at her desk. Commander Adam Dalgliesh, called in to investigate, finds motives for murder among the clients Venetia has defended, her professional colleagues, her family - even her lover. As Dalgliesh narrows the field of suspects, a second brutal murder draws them into greater complexities of intrigue and evil. P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley, Children of Men and Death In Holy Orders, once again explores the mysterious and intense emotions responsible for the unique crime of murder, with authority and sensitivity. A Certain Justice is set in the legal world of London and possesses all of the qualities which distinguish P.D. James as a novelist. Available from Amazon.

1.7.15

Book recommendation: The Two-Sided Man: A Selection of the Short Stories of Rudyard Kipling by Brian Harris OBE, QC

Somerset Maugham once described Rudyard Kipling as ‘our greatest short story writer’, adding, ‘I can’t believe he will ever be equalled. I am sure he will never be excelled.’ Known by many only for The Jungle Book and the Just So stories, Kipling’s range was in fact much wider. Most readers will be familiar with his stories about India and many know of his adventure tale, ‘The Man who would be King’ which was made into a record-breaking film, but how many are aware of his horror stories like ‘The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes’, his ghost stories like ‘They’, his mystery stories like ‘The Wish House’, his revenge stories like ‘Dayspring Mishandled’, or the enigmatical, ‘Mary Postgate’? All can be found in this anthology of sixteen of his favourite Kipling stories. It comes with an introductory essay by Brian Harris setting the author against the background of his family, his school and his times, confronting head-on such issues as his political and religious views and his supposed racialism. After posing the question, why should we read Kipling today, Mr Harris answers, ‘Here is someone who paid the respect that is due, but not always accorded even now, to the alien, the poor and the oppressed. As the unofficial spokesman of the greatest empire in the history of the world he described accurately and sympathetically the lives of the peoples living under its jurisdiction. Though no orthodox believer, he prized and in his writings illustrated the great Christian virtues of charity, compassion and forgiveness, as well as the more modest British virtue of toleration. Nor is it possible to read his stories without being surprised by the light they so often throw on the eternal mysteries of love, pain and loss. Ultimately, however, we read him, as our parents did before us, for sheer enjoyment. The Two-Sided Man comes hard on the heels of Mr Harris’ anthology of Kipling’s poetry (‘The Surprising Mr Kipling’) Available from Amazon.

24.6.15

Book recommendation: To Kill A Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback by Harper Lee

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much. To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition. Available from Amazon.

17.6.15

Book recommendation: Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumpole Stories by John Mortimer

Forever Rumpole - a hilarious new selection of the very best Rumpole stories by John Mortimer. Horace Rumpole lives alongside Mr Pickwick and Bertie Wooster as one of the immortal comic characters in English fiction. With his curmudgeonly wit, his literary allusions, his disdain for personal ambition and his lack of pomposity, he has, in the words of the Daily Telegraph, 'ascended to the pantheon of literary immortals'. Available from Amazon.

10.6.15

Book recommendation: The Great Defender: The Life and Trials of Edward Marshall Hall KC, England's Greatest Barrister by Edward Marjoribanks (Author) and Gary Bell QC (Introduction)

When Sir Edward Marshall Hall died in 1927 it was the end of an era. Tall, strikingly handsome and charming, the barrister was the finest advocate ever seen in the English criminal courts. Known as 'The Great Defender' as he fought tooth and nail for his clients, those in the shadow of the hangman's noose were often saved from execution by his dramatic and eloquent defence. His closing speeches to rapt juries were legendary and there was never a free seat in the public gallery or on the press bench when he was in the Old Bailey. Marshall Hall did not win every case - the 'brides in the bath' murderer George Smith and poisoner Frederick Seddon were sentenced to death - but not without a fight from the amazing advocate. One of his finest victories came in 1894 when he saved the life of Marie Hermann, a former Austrian governess who had resorted to prostitution to feed her three children, one of whom was blind, after her husband abandoned her. Charged with the murder of an elderly client, even she believed she would be hanged. Marshall Hall gave an impassioned plea to the jury which ended with him, with tears on his cheeks and pointing to her in the dock, begging, 'Look at her, gentlemen of the jury, look at her. God never gave her a chance. Won't you?' They did, and she was found not guilty of murder. Despite success in court, Marshall Hall's personal life was tragic. His first wife, Ethel, whom he adored, informed him on their honeymoon that she could never love him and died in agony following a botched, secret abortion after getting pregnant with her lover's child. This biography, written by his friend Edward Marjoribanks, with an introduction by criminal barrister Gary Bell QC, details many of the advocate's famous trials and his life outside court. Available from Amazon.

3.6.15

Book recommendation: The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations. Their way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand, and has been for hundreds of years. A Viking would understand the work they do: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the gruelling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the fells. These modern dispatches from an ancient landscape tell the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, describing a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped this landscape. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd's year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the world changes around them. Many stories are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay. James Rebanks is the Herdwick Shepherd, whose account of shepherding has a strong following on Twitter (@herdyshepherd1). His family has farmed in the same area for more than six hundred years. Available from Amazon.

27.5.15

Book recommendation: Diary of a Lawyer by Goldie Millan

When her beloved father dies under suspicious circumstances, Liberty Deller finds herself the recipient of a host of mysterious objects, as well as a £500,000 inheritance. Viewing it as the perfect opportunity to uncover the truth behind her father’s death, Liberty joins his old firm—and quickly realises that dark secrets abound. As paralegal to the ruthless Lydia Bammona, Liberty receives a crash course in the moral and ethical limbo that exists at the Yorkshire-based law firm that’s funded by a pair of brothers known as the “Yorkshire Terriors.” Recording her thoughts and one-sided conversations with her deceased father in the diary that he left her, Liberty slowly unravels a tangled web of lies that puts her in increasing amounts of danger. As robed men begin to follow her every move, Liberty falls victim to attempted murder, kidnapping, and more. But what do these mysterious stalkers want? With surprising plot twists that include family drama and a touch of romance, Diary of a Lawyer offers up plenty of suspense for lawyers and mystery lovers, alike. Available from Amazon.

20.5.15

Book recommendation: The Man Who Left by Theresa Weir

THE MAN WHO LEFT is a memoir about the importance of fathers. It's about the men who leave, and the men who stay. It's a familiar story. Father leaves his wife and children and never looks back. Theresa Weir was five when her father left his family for a better life with a wealthy socialite. Many years passed with only occasional and grudging contact by Theresa's father. When Theresa married into a successful farm family, her father resurfaced, but she couldn't help but be suspicious of his awkward visits. Years later, when the aging socialite dies and Theresa's father is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, people expect Theresa to move to Florida to care for him. A daughter's duty. This is Theresa's personal story of a strained and painful father/daughter relationship. What does a daughter owe the father who abandoned her? Available from Amazon.

13.5.15

Book recommendation: Judicial Whispers (Caper Court) by Caro Fraser

For Leo Davies, a charming, brilliant barrister at one of London's most prestigious chambers, life is good. It is only when he applies to take silk and become a QC that whispers begin of his scandalous sexual past. Leo, a man who has always meticulously divided his personal and professional lives, is unnerved to discover just how much his colleagues seem to know. Could attaching himself to a suitable woman be the solution to his problems? When fellow barrister Anthony Cross falls in love with beautiful solicitor Rachel Dean, Leo realises he may have to callously hurt them both to save his career. But Rachel has a dark and frightening secret of her own, and Leo's relationship with Anthony is more complicated than ever ... Available from Amazon.

6.5.15

Book recommendation: Crucial Evidence by Margaret Barnes

Lenny Barker is pleading not guilty to the brutal murder of prostitute Shelley Paulson, while his defence barrister Cassie Hardman is left in no doubt of his guilt - that is until she learns of compelling new evidence in the high profile case to which only she is privy. Risking her future career and her ambition to become a QC, Cassie Hardman seeks a fair trial for the accused Barker, and will stop at nothing to locate the missing witness who may hold the key to his acquittal. Will she find the man in question before the jury retires to consider their verdict at the Old Bailey? And if Barker is acquitted of the gruesome crime who was really responsible? Available from Amazon.

29.4.15

Book recommendation: Order in Court: 2 (Toby Potts) by David Osborne

Toby Potts, fresh from Bar School, and clutching his graduation diploma, is a young, aspiring barrister, full of hopes and dreams and intent on becoming the leading criminal advocate of his time. He can hardly wait to get on his feet and impress the jury with his incisive cross-examination, his mastery of all things legal, and his spellbinding final speeches. Sadly, reality kicks in, and Toby finds the path to fame and fortune far from smooth and uneventful. Chambers politics, strange clients, solicitors who come and go on a whim, and even stranger and eccentric judges, all have their part to play in Toby’s climb up the greasy pole. Moments of courtroom drama, and many more moments of high fiasco, mark Toby’s initiation into the heady world of the Criminal Bar. So much to learn, so little time. Will Toby succeed where so many have failed? He has the determination, he has the self-belief, but does he have what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the profession? Only time will tell. One thing is certain - never a dull moment! Why be ordinary, Toby was once told, if you have it in you to be extraordinary? Available from Amazon.

22.4.15

Book recommendation: Winners: And How They Succeed Hardcover by Alastair Campbell

Alastair Campbell knows all about winning. As Tony Blair’s chief spokesman and strategist he helped guide the Labour Party to victory in three successive general elections, and he’s fascinated by what it takes to win. How do sports stars excel, entrepreneurs thrive, or individuals achieve their ambition? Is their ability to win innate? Or is the winning mindset something we can all develop? Drawing on the wisdom of an astonishing array of talented people – from elite athletes to top managers, from rulers of countries to rulers of global business empires – Alastair Campbell uses his forensic skills, as well as his own experience of politics and sport, to get to the heart of success. He examines how winners tick. He considers how they build great teams. He analyses how they deal with unexpected setbacks and new challenges. He judges what the very different worlds of politics, business and sport can learn from one another. And he sets out a blueprint for winning that we can all follow. Available from Amazon.

15.4.15

Book recommendation: May it Please Your Lordship by Toby Potts

Toby Potts has just qualified as a barrister and is about to embark on a career in one of the world's oldest professions. Stirring speeches to rapt juries, triumphant press interviews and enormous fees paid by grateful clients. he can see it all. But unfortunately, he has reckoned without Judge 'Bonkers' Clarke, The Honourable Mr 'Sourpuss' Boniface and a range of other equally terrifying, grumpy and borderline insane judges - not to mention tricky solicitors, bent coppers and dodgy defendants. Available from Amazon.

25.2.15

Book recommendation: Advocacy in Court: A Beginner's Guide by Keith Evans

A book for all new lawyers who wish to become advocates and for all solicitors who gain rights of audience and propose to exercise them. Available from Amazon.

18.2.15

Book recommendation: The Law Machine by Marcel Berlins

Marcel Berlins, a former practising lawyer, has written several books and presented a number of television series, including The Law Machine. He presents 'Law in Action' on BBC Radio 4 and writes a weekly legal column in the Guardian. Clare Dyer, asolicitor, is legal correspondent of the Guardian and the British Medical Journal. Available from Amazon.

11.2.15

Book recommendation: Ford County by John Grisham

Gripping short stories from the No.1 bestselling author of the legal thriller. Worldwide No.1 bestseller John Grisham takes you into the heart of America's Deep South with a collection of stories connected by the life and crimes of Ford County: a place of harsh beauty where broken dreams and final wishes converge. From a hard-drinking, downtrodden divorce lawyer looking for pay-dirt, to a manipulative death row inmate with one last plea, Ford County features a vivid cast of attorneys, crooks, hustlers, and convicts. Through their stories he paints a unique picture of lives lived and lost in Mississippi. Completely gripping, frequently moving and always entertaining, Ford County brims with the same page-turning quality and heart-stopping drama of his previous bestsellers, and is proof once more why John Grisham is our most popular storyteller. Available from Amazon.

4.2.15

Book recommendation: Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University by Nicholas J McBride

Letters to a Law Student is the definitive guide to studying law at university. It is filled with advice to turn the potentially daunting task of studying law into an enjoyable and stimulating experience. Reading Letters to a Law Student will also help anyone considering studying law at university decide whether reading for a law degree is the right option for them. Written in a lively and entertaining style, this book offers clear and helpful answers to your questions about studying law at every stage of taking, or thinking about taking a law degree, from: “should I study law at university?”, and “what do law students do?”; to “how can I get the best marks in exams?”, and “what can I do with a law degree?” - along with many more. The Letters to a Law Student Companion Website provides additional support in finding out more about the study of law, using the Internet in your studies, and exploring the types of careers available in law. Letters to a Law Student is essential reading for anyone who is doing, or thinking about doing, a law degree at university. Available from Amazon.