Source: Review copy
Publication: 21 February 2019 from No Exit Press
Gethin Grey is the man you call when there’s nowhere else to turn.
His Last Resort Legals team investigates miscarriages of justice. But Gethin is running out of options himself: his gambling is out of control, his marriage is falling apart and there s no money left to pay the wages…
Izma M was sent down years ago for the brutal murder of a young woman. In jail he’s written a bestseller and become a cult hero, and now the charismatic fading-film-star Amelia Laverne wants to bankroll Gethin to prove Izma’s innocence. For Gethin low on luck and cash the job is heaven sent. But is Izma M really as blameless as his fans believe?
This seemingly cold case is about to turn very hot indeed…
Gethin Grey is an odd character. Rebelliousness as a youth led to a spell in prison; something that did not ender him to his father, a now retired judge. His criminal conviction put paid to his aspirations of a career at the legal bar, and so now he does the next best thing. He runs a Cardiff agency called Last Resorts Legal, which takes on the cases of criminals who have been convicted but are claiming a miscarriage of justice.
Married to psychiatrist, Cat and with one daughter, Hattie, Gethin is also just one step away from bankruptcy; something he does not help by his occasionally recidivistic behaviour at the gambling tables.
Last Resorts has a great team. Bex is the more than capable probation officer turned office manager, who moonlights as a singer in tribute bands. Lee is the street smart legal assistant and Deano Wilson is the agency’s investigator.
Though Legal Resorts has had a couple of successes, it’s still a struggling enterprise and so when famous actress, Amelia Laverne, funds them to them to take on the case of black Briton, Ismail Mohammed, aka Izma M. aka Tyrell Hanson, they are overjoyed. Not only will this mean funds in hand, but the publicity should also be helpful. Izma M is serving a sentence for the murder of Hannah Gold in Bristol, but whilst in prison he has written a memoir which has soared up the non- fiction list and helped to convince many of his innocence. Gethin hopes he has a cause celebre on his hands and can challenge the racial prejudices inbuilt in the justice system.
Gethin sets out to prove Izma’s innocence, but he is soon struggling with witnesses who won’t tell the truth, hoodlums and corrupt policeman and all the time is questioning the motives of Amelia Laverne in funding this endeavour.
The settings are excellent. Cardiff’s backstreets are dark and gritty and Bristol’s young, upmarket trendy joints are well explored, along with the close by Cotswolds. The team dynamic is what makes Last Resorts Legal really work, because Gethin himself is a slightly grey character. In fact, truth be told, I liked his father rather better!
There’s a lot of potential here and I love the overall concept and the way the team work together in a novel that has some interesting twists and a very welcome diversity to the cast. With some neat thrills and a decent quotient of gangster behaviour, I enjoyed this book, though I felt some added tension would not have gone amiss.
Verdict: An enjoyable, atmospheric thriller with a great set of diverse characters.
John L. Williams is an author, journalist and screenwriter. He has written eleven books, including the acclaimed Cardiff Trilogy, published by Bloomsbury and translated into half a dozen languages, and, most recently, the acclaimed biographies Michael X (for which he is currently writing a screenplay), America’s Mistress: The Life & Times of Eartha Kitt and Miss Shirley Bassey (Times music book of the year – ‘wildly entertaining, someone should make a movie’). He was literary editor of The Face, Arena and GQ magazines at one time or another. He is currently the crime fiction critic for the Mail On Sunday. For the last ten years he has programmed and organised the Laugharne Weekend literary festival in West Wales.
I have been nominated (alongside many other excellent bloggers) for the Best Book Blog in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
If you would like.to do so, you can vote for my blog here