A Higher Duty
A compelling and disturbing tale of law courts, lawyers and their clients set in sixties London
Early 1960s London.Four barristers in two fiercely competitive chambers represent the opposing sides of a bitter divorce.
Intrigue, hypocrisy, blackmail and long concealed murder result in a deadly game of double bluff.
As innocent lives become entangled, nothing is sacred – not even justice.
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A Higher Duty is available in paperback and ebook formats.
Publisher: No Exit Press
Publication Date: 21st February 2013
PB ISBN: 978-1-84243-668-4
Format: B (198 X 129mm)
Kindle ISBN: 978-1-84243-669-1
ePub ISBN: 978-1-84243-670-7
Critical Acclaim for A Higher Duty
Racy legal thrillers lift the lid on sex and racial prejudice at the bar- Hugh Muir, Guardian [read the full review]
If anyone's looking for the next big courtroom drama... look no further. Murphy is your man.- Paul Magrath, The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting Blog [read the full review]
Peter Murphy’s novel is an excellent read from start to finish and highly recommended.- Historical Novel Review [read the full review]
I have vivid and resentful memories of applying to be taken on as a barrister's pupil at a time before the equal opportunities legislation of the mid-1970s, when the reponse could legally and shamelessly be 'we don't take women' (or Jews, or non-white people). So I was fascinated by this novel, which is set in the 1960s and focuses on the rivalry between several barristers and two bright pupils, a Jewish man and a young woman. The crime concerned is not a murder, and the story is set so firmly in the arcane world of London chambers that the book is not likely to be a popular read. That's a pity, because it's engrossing to follow the machinations of insiders as they suppress potential scandals. One senior lawyer explains his duty to maintain the status quo at all costs, even if it means breaking the law: 'I take such steps as I have to.' Half a century on, women, Jews, the working classes and other former outsiders are allowed to join in, and to a certain extent they have brought daylight with them. Murphy describes an exclusive society that has disappeared. Good riddance.
Jessica Mann, Literary Review
An absorbing read, and one which will make you think, and consider yourself fortunate to be living in a world which has moved on.- Lynne Patrick, Mystery People [read the full review]
A trend seems to have arisen for classifying novels as crime/mystery/thriller when they have only the most slender claim to the label. A Higher Duty has a legal background, and someone dies in dubious circumstances in the opening chapter, so perhaps its claim is slightly stronger than some; but the background is largely family law, and the death requires no investigation. Instead, the real crime in this thoughtful, vividly evoked story is an ongoing one, committed for centuries against most of the population by a small but powerful section of it. Set in the early 1960s, it explores a darker side of the legal system in which the class system was exploited, minorities were regarded as ‘not our sort’, and women, however able, were dismissed as of no account because of their inconvenient habit of bringing the next generation into existence. Several loosely connected story strands come together to form the kind of neat conclusion in which justice is done after a fashion: probably the best that could have been achieved at the time, but still inclined to make a 21st century reader either blink with surprise or grind his/her teeth, depending on gender and how many of the intervening decades and social changes s/he has lived through. The phrase ‘persons of no significance’ crops up uncomfortably often: a strong indication that half a century ago attitudes and behaviour were very different. Murphy succeeds in portraying them with a light, deft touch which avoids the ‘preachy’ pitfall some authors fall into when reconstructing a past which is well within living memory. He makes a jolly good fist of recreating the social background which defined that era, and he does it in a highly readable way, using the old-fashioned device of good storytelling: creating a believable situation and engaging, rounded characters who draw the reader in and makes him/her care what happens to them. Some of them are likeable, others less so, but there is no black and white, no good guy required to triumph or bad one who has to get his comeuppance. The ending is tidy, and probably inevitable, though whether it makes for the kind of satisfying denouement aficionados of crime fiction expect is open for debate. But it is an absorbing read, and one which will make you think, and consider yourself fortunate to be living in a world which has moved on.
Lynne Patrick, Mystery People
This beautifully written book had me captivated from start to finish- Old Dogs, New Tricks [read the full review]
A gripping page-turner. A compelling and disturbing tale of English law courts, lawyers, and their clients, told with the authenticity that only an insider like Murphy can deliver. The best read I've come across in a long time."- David Ambrose
Reader Reviews for A Higher Duty
I couldn’t wait to read the end of this book - Eventfulfire, amazon.co.uk Read More
an absorbing insight into the world of Barristers, Lawyers, the Law and the games they play - C. Colbert, amazon.co.uk Read More
so well written and so intriguing that I could not put it down - Joan Alston, amazon.co.uk Read More
an insight into how the legal system and the world of judges, lawyers and solicitors operated in the 1960's - poppyash, Waterstones Read More