Calling Down the Storm
The Fifth Ben Schroeder Novel
April 1971. When DI Webb and DS Raymond respond to a 999 call at Harpur Mews in Bloomsbury, a horrific scene awaits them. Susan Lang is lying on the ground, bleeding to death. Her husband Henry is sitting nearby, holding a large, blood-stained knife. In shock, Henry claims to have no memory of the events that led to his wife’s death, leaving his barrister, Ben Schroeder, little with which to defend a potential murder charge.
Unbeknownst to his strict Baptist wife, Deborah, Justice Rainer has a secret life as a gambler. In his desperation for money to fund his habit, he has already raided his own and Deborah’s resources, and now he has crossed another line – one from which there is no return.
To his horror, as the trial of Henry Lang starts, Rainer discovers a sinister connection between the trial and his gambling debts which could cause his world to unravel. In a rare case in which the judge is in greater peril than the defendant on trial, both Lang and Rainer have called down the storm on their own heads. Their lives are on the line, and time is running out…
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Publisher: No Exit Press
Publication Date: 29th June 2017
PB ISBN: 978-1-84344-673-6
Format: B (198 X 129mm)
Critical Acclaim for Calling Down the Storm
This latest volume in the life of junior barrister Ben Shroeder, set during the turbulent early 1970s, features a hard-fought custody battle in the divorce courts, a fatal stabbing in the streets of Holborn, drug dealers, loanshark gangsters, dangerous liaisons, and the high life of a swish Mayfair casino—all woven into a tale that begins with a murder mystery and ends with a courtroom drama.
In the pages of this novel, notorious historical figures like Lord Lucan rub shoulders with the complex characters of Murphy’s fictional legal world: the clients and lawyers, the police and expert witnesses, and above all of them, the judge. There is time, too, to discuss the subtleties of psychology and the ethics of legal privilege, in a story in which the patient workings of justice compete with the gathering storm of a bloody tragedy.
Paul Magrath, Barrister
Reader Reviews for Calling Down the Storm
I loved the flow of the narrative and how one chapter just lead to another…..A good old fashioned legal thriller that we don’t see enough of nowadays! I was sucked into the drama until the final verdict. - Jo Robertson, MyChestnut Reading Tree Read More
I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Written by Peter Murphy and published by No Exit Press in 2017, this starts out looking like a traditional British police procedural, but that changes quickly. The story begins with the stabbing, in the middle of the day and on a public street, of an estranged wife by her husband. It then quickly morphs into a description of the private life of a barrister who wears silk (Queen’s Counsel — QC), and who develops a serious gambling problem before becoming a judge who will eventually preside in the trial of the accused husband. A third minor thread deals with the barristers who will handle both sides of the murder case.
The setting is London in 1971. The author goes into a great amount of detail regarding the gambling habits and sex life of the QC who later becomes a judge, and the story’s dialogues are accurate depictions of the way lawyers speak — especially in courtrooms. English speakers who reside in any one of the countries that share the British legal system will probably have no trouble following the story line, but Americans might not find it so easy. Barristers and solicitors might be unfamiliar to Americans, but not to anybody acquainted with the British legal system. This isn’t the place for a lesson on the subject, but a simplistic explanation for Americans might be that barristers are akin to trial lawyers in the United States, and solicitors are like lawyers who practice law and deal with clients, but do not present cases in courtrooms. The role of barristers in the UK has changed, and this is probably why the author set the book in 1971.
Mr. Murphy did his research well. The gambling game that gets the judge into trouble (Chemin de Fer) is presented accurately, as is the real Clermont Club where the gambling takes place. There really is a Clermont Club in London, and the author actually visited it while writing the book. There really is a game called Chemin de Fer, and it is the forerunner of the game we now call Baccarat. The dialogue and events described in the book are very detailed and realistic.
The three major plot lines come together seamlessly before the end of the book, and the author is careful to tie up loose ends. The ending will come as a surprise to many. It did to me. On the negative side, there was a bit too much unnecessary detail that could certainly have been omitted without detracting from the story. Some of the dialog is repetitious. Some of the details of the judge’s sexcapades could have been omitted without seriously detracting from the story. All in all, however, I very much enjoyed the book and would recommend to anybody who might like a realistic British legal story with a touch of murder. - Richard Clemmons, NetGalley Read More