A Matter For The Jury
By Peter Murphy
When I read ‘A Higher Duty’ by Peter Murphy, Ben Schroeder was my favourite character. So when I heard that he was going to feature as the main character in a new book I was really keen to read it.
This book sees Ben firmly ensconced in chambers and about to defend a capital murder trial. Billy Cottage is charged with murder and rape, and because a piece of jewellery was stolen in the course for the crime, that makes it a capital offence. Ben, working with solicitor Barratt Davis and his assistant Jess, and QC Martin Hardcastle, a man with more than enough problems of his own, sets out to try to save Billy Cottage from the gallows.
There are some great sub plots supporting the main plot. Ben and his colleagues also have to defend a vicar under suspicion of assaulting a choirboy. Is there more to this than meets the eye? The way this case is handled by Ben and the others sets the scene for later events.
And another thread takes us on a chilling journey to discover exactly what might have motivated someone to apply for the position of public executioner. This is dealt with very factually, which makes it all the more chilling.
One of the subplots also delivers a huge and unexpected twist towards the end of the novel, for which I was totally unprepared.
We also get to see some insights into Ben’s personal life. It is his growing friendship with Jess and events in his own family that lead to some of the most tear jerking and emotional moments of the novel.
I was pleased to see some other characters from ‘A Higher Duty’ reappear in this story. Harriet Fisk is still sharing a room with Ben and provides a foil when he wants to chat about the case, and about their shared past. And Clive Overton, who was such a pivotal character in the first book, has an interesting cameo towards the end.
The repercussions of dealing with a capital murder case take their toll on all involved and this book left me feeling very glad that we no longer have the death penalty in this country, and hoping that no future government, however right wing, will attempt to bring it back.
I really thought this book was a great read and I recommend it to lovers of crime and courtroom dramas. I will be looking forward to more books featuring Ben Schroeder in the future.
Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.
You can find out more here.
You can read my review of 'A Higher Duty' here.