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Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Lightning Books,
11 July 2019. ISBN: 978-1-7856127-6 (PB)
Things are going pretty well for James Salisbury, CEO
of the car company SEDA which manufactures autonomous (self-driving) cars. Although
special legislation is required the Government, anxious to promote advances in
technology particularly when it appears that the risk of accidents is likely to
be substantially reduced thus leading to a considerable reduction in the cost
of driving insurance – both of which factors will be highly popular with the
voting public, is encouraging despite the fears of Government lawyers as to
possible legal liability. If the legislation goes through not only will SEDA
(and James) make a lot of money but he will be seen as a public benefactor par excellence. And that pleases him no
end. The wonderful thing about a self-driving car is that although the law
requires the driver to sit in the driver’s seat, he doesn’t have to actually
drive at all. He can text on his mobile, write on his IPad: on top of the car
there is a computer which uses LIDAR (a combination of laser and radar
technology) which can not only see hazards that could escape the attention of
the most careful and thoughtful driver but take the appropriate non-hazardous
action. Another app, VERA (Voice-activated, Enhanced, Road-experience
Assistant) will talk to him about what is going on and chat about all sorts of
things: in fact, a more extreme version of ALEXA now found in so many homes.
And yet another app, EDR (Event Data Recorder) records everything that has
So, in that case, how
is it that James, being driven home by his SEDA and texting his wife, knocks
down and kills two small children who ran out into the road and severely injures
their mother? Just the sort of thing that SEDA should prevent? Had James in
fact switched from SEDA to manual but, having himself been concussed and
suffering from memory loss, been unaware of what he had done? If there was some
fault in the autonomous system that would be a huge blow to SEDA’s prospects,
not to mention James’s vision of himself as a major contributor to road safety.
But if he had after all switched to manual, then he is to blame and could be
facing a prison sentence of 15 years.
This is where
solicitor Constance Lamb and barrister Judith Burton come in. They are called
upon to mount a defence of James. In order to do that they have to establish
fault – was it James’s or the car’s? - and find out exactly what happened.
There is quite a bit of obfuscation, particularly by the Government with
evidence being withheld. And James himself is horrified at what has happened
and the parents of the two dead children are devastated and would like nothing
better than to see James in jail for a very long time. The trial begins and
then some unexpected evidence is introduced. What effect will that evidence
have on the verdict? And will the verdict be the end of the matter?
In this third in the
author’s Burton and Lamb legal series the author presents a highly complex
story which the author expertly unravels while at the same time presenting
readers with her concern at recent developments in information technology (lie
detecting in The Pinocchio Brief,
robots performing operations in The
Aladdin Trial, and in this book self-driven cars): such developments, she
is telling us, may bring their own problems with them. And at the same time, in
The Cinderella Plan, we must not
forget that two very young children with their lives before them, died
Abi Silver grew up with a house full of books and was
inspired from an early age to believe she could join the ranks of her
heroes. Abi accepts that she probably could not have produced The Pinocchio Brief without her
experience as a lawyer to guide her along the way. She says being a
lawyer is just like being a detective, often required to construct the whole
jigsaw puzzle of a client’s case from its constituent pieces. Also, being
a good judge of character too; the motivation behind people’s actions (which
must be gleaned from their words and conduct) is key to understanding what
really happened and why. Abi read Law at Girton College Cambridge before
wanderlust sent her off travelling through Asia, Australia and South America as
a student. She also lived overseas in Israel for 5 years. Abi now lives
in Radlett, Hertfordshire with her husband and three sons.
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.