The Verdict by Nick Stone

Oh dear another long one!   What is the matter with me?   But it’s a self-select and a legal thriller – my favorite –  so I tried to like it in general,  but … well … see below.

At the age of 30-something,  Terry Flynt,  our first person protagonist,  is an older kind of guy to be a new law clerk and the reason has to do with the same guy he’s now in the position of having to defend against charges of murder.  Terry is very smart with a lot of initiative – he wants to do something more than type and file.

Terry despises his client, Vernon James and would love to see him found guilty and spend his life in prison. A black-skinned finance genius,  Vernon and Terry have a long history and it’s revealed a bit at a time. It ended with serious troubles and a blank spot on Terry’s resume.

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*******
The Verdict
by Nick Stone
2015 / 512 pages
read by David Thorpe 21h 20m
rating:  B+  –  legal thriller
*******

In the years since they knew each other Vernon has become rich and glamorous in the field of finance and real estate as well as highly esteemed for his ethical standards – what the public knows of them.  He definitely has secrets and from the Prologue we know he’s a fake.

Now he’s hired the pricey firm where Terry works as a law clerk to defend him.   The lawyers at  the firm,  thinking he’ll fail to get a not-guilty verdict, assign him to the case hoping they’ll be able to fire him afterwards – or at least that’s the impression Terry finally gets because, for all apparent purposes,  it’s certainly not a winnable case and, as one of the actual lawyers there says,  “We don’t lose cases.”

The murder of Evelyn Bates was  brutal and Nick was undeniably with a strange woman in a penthouse suite of an upscale hotel which he left with bruises and marks.  But the reader doesn’t know for sure if Vernon did it or not – Vernon absolutely denies it – but he is such a creep!    Anyway,  it certainly looks bad for him, his story doesn’t hold up and he has a history of – maybe.   He’s in big trouble and it gets much worse.

Terry hates him for more than one reason –  Terry really wants to see his old friend get found guilty,  but on the other hand,  they had been very good friends until that missing piece of Terry’s past.  And there are times when the evidence supports Vernon.    Terry is apparently an alcoholic trying to work some kind of program in getting his new life together and keeping it.

Stone writes well,  the plot is twisty and very original and the characters are nicely individualized and somewhat quirky.   It’s a good book although there are a few unlikely coincidences and less than likely scenarios.   Also,   one part of the ending was kinda-sorta predictable for me at about 2/3rds through.  But that was by no means the whole ending and the tale is still fascinating due to the twists to get there.

The story takes place in the English courts so there are some differences to what one would find in an American crime novel.  Stone does a fine job of explaining (to the point it seems he’s writing with an American audience possibly in mind).  There are also some general references to London and the times.   For instance,  about midway through the novel the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton takes place and is described in fair detail.   That was April 29, 2011.

Sad to say one of the big twists involved taking the novel into some really murky waters and gets over-the-top complex due to external events in which Terry becomes involved.   That’s the reason for the lower rating –  without this plot thread the book would have got an A+ from me.

But also,  a couple of words about the abundant courtroom scenes –  they are riveting and brilliantly done.   What the lead attorney does with the evidence is amazing.  And Stone takes the tension to excellent heights in these scenes.  The devil is in the details.   But courtroom scenes alone don’t make for great thrillers,  so there are a few chase scenes involved, too.  They’re fine,  rather unusual, and have a purpose within the story although tangentially because they take the story way outside the murder zone.

One more thing – print versions might be a tad better than the Audio because there are structural and print effects in the written narrative such as lists and email texts.  I enjoyed the audio version because the narration is great but … just saying.

Google books sample:  –   http://tinyurl.com/j2x29rs

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