Beyond Reasonable Doubt – Gary Bell | @garybellqc @BloomsburyRaven

Elliot Rook QC is one of the greatest barristers of his generation. 

He is also a complete fraud.

Elliot Rook is the epitome of a highly successful, old Etonian QC. Or so everyone believes. In fact, he is an ex-petty criminal with a past that he has spent decades keeping secret. Until now.

An unidentified young woman of Middle Eastern origin has been found murdered on the outskirts of Rook’s home town. Billy Barber – a violent football hooligan and white-supremacist – is accused of her murder. Barber insists that Rook must defend him. If Rook refuses, Barber will expose him, bringing crashing to the ground the life and career that Rook has spent his life building.

The truth is there for the finding. But at what cost?

The start of a thrilling new legal series, perfect for fans of Robert Galbraith and The Secret Barrister, written by an acclaimed QC.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt was published by Bloomsbury Raven on the 13th June 2019. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book for this review.

An addictive legal thriller from someone who clearly knows what they are talking about…I loved Beyond Reasonable Doubt from start to finish! I am so pleased that this is the first book in a new series so we will be hearing more from Elliot Rook QC.

Rook is a fantastic main character, he’s a bit grumpy, works too hard, in denial about his divorce and definitely drinks to much…I loved him, warts and all! He is a barrister for a prestigious chambers in central London, the epitome of high class. However, Rook is not the person who he lets people assume that he is, he has a much more colourful background that people aren’t aware of. It is this background that gets him dragged into defending Billy Barber against a charge of murder of an unknown young woman who has been found dead on disused train tracks.

Prior to the murder case, Rook is drowning in paperwork associated with a fraud case that he is working on so is persuaded to take on a ‘pupil’, Zara Barnes is a breathe of fresh air to the old Etonian chambers and has more in common with Rook than she initially thinks. I loved the dynamic between Rook and Zara, there is quite an age gap between them however Rook can see her potential and respects her determination for justice so they form a solid relationship from the start.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt is a brilliant crime investigation but from the other side as to what I read, it’s usually the police investigation leading up to the criminal trial so it was really interesting to pick it up from this point. Even without knowing that the author is a highly experienced QC, the authenticity of the legal system comes through in droves from the narratives from the description of other characters, the processes that the defence is going through and the interaction between characters. I really enjoyed the trial section of the book, Bell brought it to life and it felt as though I was part of the public gallery.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt is a entertaining and satisfying read, it has brilliantly pacing and the right amount of legal speak to be authentic but not too much as to confuse non-legal people 🙂 I look forward to finding out what is next for Elliot Rook, a solid start to what is looking to be a great new series.

Born into a coal mining family, Gary Bell QC left school without any qualifications and was an apprentice mechanic, fork lift truck driver, production line worker, builder, fireman and door-to-door salesman, as well as a notorious football hooligan, before being arrested for fraud aged 18. After a brief stint in prison he set off to seek fame and fortune abroad and, after two years drifting around Europe ended up penniless and homeless. He next enrolled in a FE College to study his O and A levels, and then went on to study law as a mature student at Bristol University where he ‘became’ an Old Etonian. After graduating he spent a year as a litigation lawyer in Beverly Hills before coming back to England to become a barrister. He has spent over thirty years at the Bar, specialising in defending in major fraud and murder trials, becoming a QC in 2012. Always on the look out for challenges and opportunities he has also been an award winning stand-up comedian; an after-dinner speaker (when at University he won several national debating competitions and was runner up in the World’s Humorous Debating Competition at Princeton); he has learned to fly a plane, hosted his own TV show (the Legalizer) on BBC1; writes regularly for national newspapers; has a column in The Spectator and wrote his best-selling autobiography, Animal QC.

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