I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Peter Murphy’s latest novel, Calling Down the Storm, with my review of the book.
But first, here’s the blurb …
No Exit Press (29 Jun. 2017)
Calling Down the Storm is the story of two separate but strangely parallel lives: the life of a defendant on trial for murder, and the life of the judge who presides over his trial.
April 1971.When DI Webb and DS Raymond arrive at Harpur’s Mews in Bloomsbury in response to a 999 call, 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 to defend a potential charge of murder.
Unknown to his strict Baptist wife Deborah who lives in the family home in Guildford, Mr Justice Conrad Rainer has a secret life in his London flat, a life as a high-stakes gambler. In his desperation for money to fund his gaming, 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, Conrad discovers a sinister connection between the trial and his gambling debts, a connection that could cause his world to unravel. And then, there’s the other terrible secret he is hiding in his flat. In a rare case in which the judge is in greater peril than the defendant on trial in his court, both Henry and Conrad have called down the storm on to their heads. Their lives are on the line, and time is running out.
My thoughts …
What an interesting idea for a plot – this blurb had me hooked from the second I saw the press release! How great that the judge in a murder trial is almost as criminal as those he presides over in his courtroom!?
This is all brought crashing down around him when Henry Lang is brought before Rainer, to stand trial for the murder of his wife, Susan.
Starting off with a murder, a dead body and scary police stand-off is bound to grab the attention of the crime lovers out there, what a great opening chapter! It was made quite obvious that, as the book is set in 1971, this is not an everyday occurrence on the streets of London, and the horror felt by the officers involved at this crime is palpable on the pages.
As the story starts to take shape we are quite quickly introduced to a lot of characters, we have the lawyers for Susan, the lawyers for Henry, the police and several more on top and associated with those just mentioned. This did make the early chapters a little confusing in places, especially when, on occasion, the same character is referred to by either their first name or their surname – I did find myself having to check back a couple of times to make sure I had the right character in my head. This didn’t majorly affect my enjoyment of the book though as I continued (I have given up on books like that before) it does calm down and Murphy brings these characters to life on the pages.
Once again, keeping in mind that it is 1971 Murphy really brings the time to the pages, the way people speak, the way they act – he really has the era down pat and helps to build a really great atmosphere.
You can clearly see that Murphy is from a legal background, it stands out a mile in the ways in which he describes the conversations, the interviews and the actual court proceedings, it’s great! He really manages to capture the imagination and make yo feel that you there, watching the trial unfold.
As the lives of Justice Conrad Reiner and Henry Lang start to intertwine, the pace of the book picks up fantastically, as does the intensity and as we hurtle towards to the conclusion, you are left pretty shocked by the twisty, turny ways in which the secrets of those in power start to collide with those beneath them, there is a real chance that everything will come crashing down around them all!
A solid read with a fantastic plot that had me intrigued and wanting to find out more, I loved the court scenes, it felt so real!
Many thanks to the publisher, No Exit Press and Murphy for having me on the tour today!
You can get your copy over at Amazon UK now!
About the author …
Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He has written two political thrillers about the US presidency – Removal and Test of Resolve – and five legal thrillers featuring Ben Schroeder: A Higher Duty, A Matter for the Jury, And is there Honey still for Tea?, The Heirs of Owain Glyndwr and Calling Down the Storm. He lives in Cambridgeshire.