As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Little Brown, 5 April 2018. ISBN: 978-1-4087-0875-0(HB)
Not being a card player, before I read the second in John Fairfax's
compelling series featuring convicted killer turned barrister William Benson I
had no idea how similar conducting a defence in court is to playing a game of
poker. Blind defence, the reader is reliably informed by one of the characters,
is a useful tactic in the game – and it sums up the case Benson is fighting
pretty well, too.
This time Benson appears to
be defending the indefensible. His client is a thoroughly unpleasant character
accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend; he strenuously denies it, but not only
is there persuasive forensic evidence against him, he also shows marked
reluctance to talk to Benson, and when he does, he seems incapable of offering
the same version of events twice in a row. Not even Benson is totally convinced
of his innocence but governed by the cab rank rule which means a barrister has
to accept each case that comes his way, he sets out to achieve a not guilty
verdict regardless of his own feelings. And what a tangle of events emerges, as
it turns out that a lot more was going on in the victim's life than anyone
It all takes place against
the background of Benson's pressing financial problems. Since his triumph in
the first book in the series, his career has taken a nosedive. Tess de Vere,
the solicitor who believes in him, has been warned off providing him with work;
the bank is calling in the loan he took out to set up his chambers and forcing
him to put the houseboat he has made his home up for sale; a sneaky politician
is after his blood. Even Tess, who has made it her mission to prove he was
innocent of the crime which put him away for eleven years, is beginning to
The essence of good fiction
lies in the characters, and John Fairfax (now revealed as an alias for
award-winning author William Brodrick, himself a former barrister) weaves them
all into three-dimensional human beings any reader would want to get to know.
Benson himself is edgy, secretive, determined and damaged. Tess is smart,
self-aware and driven. Benson's former cellmate Archie, now his clerk, and
Molly, his secretary-come-mother figure, are warm and stalwart, and Sally,
Tess's friend and partner in cocktail nights, is sparky, flamboyant and too
intrigued by Benson's past to let it go. The supporting players, too, are
richly drawn; I especially enjoyed Mrs Justice Fleetwood on the bench and
wanted to slap Merrington the justice minister and Yardley the prosecuting
Like the first in the series,
Blind Defence kept me up into the small hours. If the promised TV series
is half as engrossing, you can count me in. And I can hardly wait for the next
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Fairfaxis the pen name of William
Brodrick who practised as a barrister before becoming a full-time novelist.
Under his own name he is a previous winner of the Crime Writers Association
Gold Dagger Award and his first novel was a Richard and Judy selection.
Lynne Patrickhas been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed
success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas,
with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few
years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning.
She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about
half of them crime fiction.