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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Published by No Exit Press,
21 February 2019. ISBN: 978-0-85370-289-2 (PB)
The Cardiff-based firm Last Resort Legals is the
brainchild of Gethin Grey. Its aim is to assist people convicted and imprisoned
for criminal offences who believe they have been victims of miscarriages of
justice. It had not been Gethin’s original career aim; as the son of a judge he
had intended to go into practice as a lawyer. But an unfortunate brush with the
law when young resulting in a short spell in prison has made that impossible.
Hence Last Resort Legals. And in the five years that it has been going there
have been some successes. Nonetheless the firm is very much run on a shoestring
with only Gethin himself, an office manager Bex, and Lee, his right-hand manager
and chief investigator, as well as the freelancer Deano who will occasionally
fix up deals that are, frankly, somewhat iffy but still within the law – just. There
is no shortage of appeals for help from persons seeking justice, but Last
Resort can only help those who would seem to have a good case and (equally important if not more so)
sufficient funding. After all, however worthy a request for help may seem to
be, Last Resort is a precarious operation and bills have to be paid.
Then Last Resort gets
an email from a formerly famous film-star, Amelia Laverne, regarding the case
of a young black man, a gang member, whose birth name had been Tyrell Hanson
but who now calls himself Ismail Mohammed (Isma M) who is in prison serving
life for the murder in Bristol of the young student Hannah Gold. While in
prison he has written a book describing how he had converted to Sufi Islam and
how that peace-loving version of the Muslim faith had turned his life around. The
book became an immediate best-seller and his cause has been taken up by the liberal
media and its supporters who point to the thinness of the evidence against him
and assert that his conviction owes more to prejudice against his colour than
any real proof. And Amelia is offering to fund Last Resort’s investigation into
the circumstances of Hannah Gold’s death. This could be, for Last Resort’s
finances, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Moreover, the relief from
financial uncertainty is good for Gethin on a personal level: there are problems
in his relationship with his wife Catriona due to his constant battle against
his long-term gambling addiction. However, the search for evidence that could
found a successful appeal for Isma will be difficult enough without the added
complication of Amelia insisting on accompanying Gethin.
Gethin and Lee’s
lengthy and painstaking investigation leads them not only into Isma’s past and
his previous relationships but also to Hannah and her former boyfriend Danny
Bliss. He, it transpires, had been the son of a leading criminal involved in
bank-rolling various bank robberies. But he, and Danny and Danny’s mother, were
blown up on their boat in Cyprus. Could there be a connection to Hannah’s
death? And what about Mal Haynes, ex-copper, now with his own security firm,
who had supplied Isma with the gun found on him after Hannah’s death? In a
gripping climax not only do Gethin, Amelia and Lee find themselves in real
danger but so does Gethin’s father.
So far as I know, this is the first crime
story to feature an organisation like Last Resort Legals and a protagonist like
Gethin Grey.. It will be interesting to see how Last Resort Legals develops in
future stories. Recommended.
John Lincoln is the
transparent pseudonym of John Williams, the novelist, biographer and crime
fiction reviewer for the Mail on Sunday. His
first book Into The Badlands explores 'a vital
mix of literary criticism, personality profile, and imaginary geography' (New Statesman and Society)
and has become a crime fiction classic. His true crime account of a
notorious miscarriage of justice, Bloody Valentine,
is a cult classic, described by Benjamin Zephaniah as his favourite book. Since
then he’s written eight more books including the Cardiff Trilogy of novels and
biographies of Michael X, Shirely Bassey and Eartha Kitt.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.