Book review: my verdict on The Verdict

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In Nick Stone’s The Verdict, a law clerk in Britain must defend an old enemy on charges of murdering a blonde in his hotel suite.  The clerk, Terry, decides to defend the suspect, VJ, as best as he can despite being burned by him 20 years earlier.  The defense team’s investigation takes Terry on a wild ride through the streets of London, dodging bullets and working with a colorful and sleazy investigator.

This is a well told story that keeps you guessing.  Is VJ’s story true or did he kill the blonde?  The investigation points in one direction, but will trial go the same way?  What were the reasons for Terry and VJ’s falling out and will they reconcile?  When will Terry’s law firm fire him?  The answers are expertly woven together throughout the course of the book.

In addition to the suspense, there are two other compelling aspects of the book.  First, the trial itself is engrossing.  Although we are familiar with the details of the investigation by the time the trial begins, Stone writes the lawyers’ opening statements, questions to the witnesses, and closing arguments in a way that keeps surprising us.

Secondly, Terry’s character is very well developed.  The book is told from his point of view.  Terry is very frank and personal with the readers about his own failings and past.  We learn more about him through the novel than his wife knows about him.  Because of that, you will feel closer to him than you may feel toward most protagonists in contemporary thrillers.

On the downside, the book is long.  It took me three times longer to read this compared to other thrillers I’ve read lately.  There were a few implausible scenes in Part III of the novel that didn’t work for me.  The trial does not begin until three-quarters of the way through the novel, so calling this a “courtroom drama” is misleading.  There is also a confusing B-story that related to the main story but didn’t add much to it.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it Grisham fans, speed readers, and Anglophiles.

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