Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Verdict ~ Nick Stone

Stone, Nick. 2015. The Verdict. New York: Pegasus.
ISBN: 978-1605989235.  $25.95 USD

I will always remember where I was when I finished Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow all those many years ago (a small dilapidated rental in Indianapolis, Indiana), because the twist ending totally surprised me (which doesn’t happen often)!  Nick Stone has been described as England’s John Grisham, but I see more of Turrow in him, myself.  The Verdict doesn’t have one big surprise ending, but multiple twists throughout the narrative that make it almost impossible to put down.  (I actually stayed up until 1:00 a.m. finishing this book on a work day)! 

One of the things I most enjoyed about this novel was the view into the British legal system, and the similarities and differences to our own. Suspects are "cautioned" rather than "Mirandized," and there are different rules of evidence, procedure and jury selection.  But the thing I most enjoyed was the story itself.

Terry Flynt is a law clerk (as opposed to a paralegal, solicitor or barrister) whose temporary job has turned into a full time stint at the prestigious Kopf-Randall-Purdom law firm where he assists the head of the Criminal Defense Division – essentially keeping the wealthy corporate clients and their progeny out of trouble and/or jail.  When KRP lands a big case, the defense of a wealthy banker accused of murdering a woman in his hotel room, the entire firm is ecstatic – except Terry. For Vernon James, the accused, is a former friend from Terry’s past who was instrumental in a huge betrayal from which Terry is still recovering.

To keep his job, Terry must participate in VJ’s defense, but his hatred of his former friend causes an internal moral struggle – help find evidence of VJ’s innocence, ignore evidence of his guilt, or do his best to make sure VJ is incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Who is telling the truth and who is lying?  What really happened in that hotel room?  Does insurmountable evidence necessarily prove guilt?  And what secrets should remain hidden?  Nick Stone provides enough twists and turns, as well as fascinating trial details, to keep the reader quickly turning the pages of this legal thriller, until the satisfying, but unexpected, ending.

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