Elliot Rook QC is one of the greatest barristers of his generation.
He is also a complete fraud.
Elliot Rook is the epitome of a highly successful, old Etonian QC. Or so everyone believes. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. Until now.
An unidentified young woman of Middle Eastern origin has been found murdered on the outskirts of Rook’s home town. Billy Barber – a violent football hooligan and white-supremacist – is accused of her murder. Barber insists that Rook must defend him. If Rook refuses, Barber will expose him, bringing crashing to the ground the life and career that Rook has spent his life building.
The truth is there for the finding. But at what cost?
Hi and welcome to my stop on the Beyond Reasonable Doubt blog tour! First of all, thanks so much Emma Welton for the invite on this #damppebblesblogtour and to Raven Books (Bloomsbury) for the e-ARC via NetGalley!
You can try and bury the past as much as you like, but sooner or later, it will come back to bite you in the arse. In Beyond Reasonable Doubt it’s main character Elliot Rook whose past comes knocking and when I say knocking I mean pounding on the door, and it does so in the form of Billy Barber. In a former life, Rook was Billy’s brother’s best friend. Billy was a criminal back then, and he’s only got worse over time. However, this is the first time he’s been accused of murder. And so he calls upon Rook, and Billy may be above begging, but he is most certainly not above blackmail! If Rook wants his past to stay in the past, if he wants to prevent it from blowing up both his present and future, he has no choice but to accept the case and so he and his brand-new junior Zara Barnes take on Billy’s case. However, Billy is not any easy man to defend, he’s mean, he’s a racist, he has a bit of a temper. Rook and Zara have no doubt he’s hiding something, and neither did I for that matter, but the question remained: what was he hiding? Let me tell you, it wasn’t anything I had foreseen! And neither was anything that came after the reveal of Billy’s secrets. Did I have theories? Sure I did, but Mr Bell had successfully thrown me off the scent and I found myself barking up the wrong tree.
While Billy Barber is a highly unlikeable character, I really liked Elliot Rook and Zara Barnes. Rook is the perfect mix of Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike and Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn. If you’re fan of either, then this is the start of a fabulous series that has your name written all over it! For the record: I know this because I am a fan of both. Like Strike, Rook is a little rough around the edges, a bit of a misfit, and a keen detective. Like Flynn, Rook is an excellent lawyer with a bit of a criminal past, not afraid to shock judge and jury alike. Zara is young and ambitious. She doesn’t give up, she doesn’t give in and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She doesn’t expect things to just fall into her lap, she puts in the work to get what she wants. Together they are a brilliant duo. Twenty years younger than he is, but just as clever, Zara is the perfect yin to Rook’s yang. There’s mutual respect, there’s the beginning of friendship, and as much as I’m pro Strike+Robin, I was happy to find zero romantic or sexual tension between the two.
Knowing that Gary Bell was born into a coal mining family and has been a QC specialising in criminal defence since 2012, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the inspiration for Elliot Rook QC came from. As such, this story felt very realistic, from the small-town scenes to the courtroom ones.
This is a nicely paced and suspenseful legal thriller, and an exciting start of a new series! I for one can’t wait to see what the future will bring for Rook and Zara! Recommended.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour: