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Summary Justice

(Benson and De Vere #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  593 ratings  ·  97 reviews
The last time Tess de Vere saw William Benson she was a law student on work experience. He was a twenty-one year old, led from the dock of the Old Bailey to begin a life sentence for murder. He'd said he was innocent. She'd believed him.

Sixteen years later Tess overhears a couple of hacks mocking a newcomer to the London Bar, a no-hoper with a murder conviction, running hi
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 2nd 2017 by Little, Brown
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  593 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a thoroughly enjoyable legal thriller that is fluently written, full of suspense and tension and easily engages the reader. It looks to be the first of a series which begins with Benson, a 21 year old philosophy student, being convicted of the murder of Paul Harbeton at the Old Bailey. He reiterates that he is innocent and his defence team and 19 year old Tess De Vere believes him. He wants to be a lawyer, which Tess tells him is possible despite the enormous obstacles in his path.

May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
John Fairfax has an established writing career (and awards to show for it) under his given name, but has turned to a nom de plume to dazzle readers with this legal thriller, full of twists. William Benson has had an interesting life to say the least. Charged with a murder he denies committing as a young man, Benson held firm that he was innocent, going so far as to profess it to a young Tess de Vere, attending the trial to see all the action. After being sentenced, Benson kept his head down in p ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc
In brief - The first 30% ish were ok - after that the book became very readable indeed. Tense and twisty - I'll certainly read the next in this series.

The full review
I liked the concept of this book. The introduction was good with Will Benson being sentenced to life for a murder he maintained he did not commit. Hearing him restate this is Tess de Vere a nineteen year old trainee solicitor. She believes him. After Will is released on parole, having admitted to the murder, Tess comes across him ag
Whispering Stories
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
1999, William Benson is in court, charged with the murder of Paul Harberton. Whilst protesting his innocence, Benson admits to killing Haberton, and gets life imprisonment. The reason for his change of plea, he wants to become a lawyer and the only way is by admitting to a crime he states he didn’t commit.

Sixteen years later, Benson is out of prison and the lead defence in the trial of Mr Justice Kenneth Oakshott, R v Collingstone. Sarah Collingstone, single parent to Daniel, her disabled son, i
Pat (not getting friend updates currently)
After a long break from legal thriller this is the second one I have enjoyed recently. William Benson is a lawyer with a difference, he is a convicted murderer.

Tess de Vere met Benson when she was a student on work experience and he was awaiting the verdict for his murder trial. He said he was innocent and she believed him. But in order to be paroled, after some years Benson has to admit his guilt So he does. He used his time wisely and studied, eventually earning a law degree. Although many roa
Liz Barnsley
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this legal thriller from John Fairfax (AKA William Broderick) it was full of bang on addictive quality, clever plotting and intriguing fascinating characters.

Our main two, Will and Tess have an emotional start to their interaction when Will is convicted of murder. Years later, having served his time and taken on the law as a career (not that easy with a murder conviction) Tess comes across him again - and again decides to help him. The levels of both characters are explored sl
Roman Clodia
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
John Fairfax is a pen-name for William Brodrick who writes the excellent Father Anselm series, books with moral and ethical weight. This is much lighter fare and I suspect will work better for me as a TV serial than as a novel, especially if the casting is right.

The premise is the unlikely one of a convicted murderer qualifying for the Bar and then setting up as a barrister when he gets parole. His side-kick sat in on his trial 16 years ago as a law student and is now a solicitor, and they are
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
Won in the Goodreads Giveaways - not read, passed to another reader.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this courtroom drama by John Fairfax. William Benson, son of a Norfolk fisherman, is a barrister with a different. He has a murder conviction of his own. It should have been an ordinary Saturday evening in November. When twenty-one-year-old William went to the Bricklayers Arms in central London with his then girlfriend, Jessica. She described William as thoughtful and considerate. On that same evening Paul Harbeton had just done his night shift at a hospital and he went to the B ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should a convicted murderer have a place in the courtroom protecting those accused of the same offence..?
The plot idea for Summary Justice really stood out to me when I picked it up earlier this year. A convicted murderer being allowed to practice law is both paradoxical and intriguing. The two main elements to this book that kept me reading were William Benson himself and the complexity of both his character and storyline. Benson is out of prison and is fighting all the animosity that comes wit
Karen Jones
Aug 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not for me!

I could not finish this book. The writing did not flow somehow,and the story itself lacked pace and didn't hold my interest.

Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's been quite some time since I last read a courtroom drama, especially one set in Britain. Many years ago I read lots of John Grisham novels and always enjoyed finding out more about the drama of the law courts.

Summary Justice appealed to me because the barrister, William Benson is also a convicted criminal. I felt sure that this must be a huge mistake; surely a person who has served time in prison for murder cannot practice law? But, yes, they can, and Benson's past is central to the plot of
Keith Currie
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
‘Anger doesn’t go way. It just gets buried. And the deeper you bury it, the more dangerous it gets.’

The author is in fact William Brodrick who writes the Brother Anselm series of mysteries. They are sophisticated stories which pose serious moral and spiritual dilemmas. This new novel retains the moral dimension but has less of the spiritual.

William Benson is a convicted murderer, who claims his innocence but has signed a confession in order to practise as a barrister. Solicitor Tess De Vere, an
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This is a fast paced legal thriller that is unique in that the Case for the Defence is being given by an ex convict - a convicted murderer to be precise. Alongside the drama of defending a murder suspect runs the story of how Benson came to be practising law after his release from prison under licence.

The story line is excellent and holds the reader spell bound through a lot of twists and turns that are never seen coming. The characters are well rounded and very robust which makes the whole very
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

Summary Justice is set largely in the Old Bailey criminal court in London. For me (having read so many US based thrillers of late) it was good to return home to good old English justice…

William Benson is a barrister, but he is not your conventional barrister. He spent 16 years in gaol (not jail!) for a murder he may – or may not – have committed. Anyway, he always protested his innocence – not least to Tess de Vere who was a young intern working with his defence lawyers at the time. She believed
Samantha Kilford
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sent-to-me
Review written as part of the blog tour by Little, Brown to promote this novel on my blog.

How to Get Away with Murder's Annalise Keating better watch her back, there's a new badass lawyer in town.

When I say that I couldn't put Summary Justice down, I wholly mean it. I didn't want to eat or sleep, I just wanted to get to the bottom of this case. After finishing this book in a day and a half, it's not hard to see why the rights have been snapped up by Potboiler Television (producers of The Const
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Wow, this is the first legal thriller that made me cry. I’m not sure what I feel right now....but it’s definitely a touching story that I can feel my heart still grieving for prejudice and injustice in this world. I usually read US legal so this one is my first British legal thriller. He courtroom drama is totally different; less theatrical, less thrilling but emotional and very real. I’m always team underdog and Summary Justice is just that....outcast underdog lawyer struggling and fig
Katheryn Thompson
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Summary Justice is a solid legal thriller with brilliant characterisation, a fluent and engaging writing style, and a plot complex enough to keep me guessing throughout. But what made it worthy of five stars, for me, was the fact that it features something I have never seen before: the main character is a defence barrister who has been convicted of murder. I love it when a book does something different, especially in the crime fiction genre which I read a lot of, a ...more
Catherine Wood
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the author William Broderick writing under another name. It's a well written legal thriller which keeps you gripped to the end. The story revolves around a barrister who himself was convicted of murder as a young man and having done time is called to the bar amidst much antagonism from the legal profession. The story culminates in a trial, which is well observed and true to life as you would expect from an author who himself was a barrister. ...more
Linda Boa
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-for-blog
Exceptionally enjoyable legal thriller, about a man with a murder conviction who becomes a barrister. It's the story of a very high profile murder case he takes on - I'll be posting my review on the Blog Tour tomorrow at
If you enjoyed the fabulous Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, you will LOVE this.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
An OK book, professionally written, with all the key ingredients of the genre, but which did not manage to get me truly emotionally involved neither in story nor in characters.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It left enough to keep you guessing as the story unfolded. Looks like there may be a sequel.
The Literary Shed
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

JOHN FAIRFAX’S NEW NOVEL, SUMMARY JUSTICE, opens with the sentencing of twenty-one-year-old philosophy student William Benson for a murder that he may or may not have committed. Although Benson has professed his innocence to Tess de Vere, the young law student shadowing the trial, he later admits his guilt and begins the long road to getting his law degree in prison. Sixteen years later, Benson is free and, against all odds, has set up his own practice in London's Spitalfields, in a former fishm
Angj Brooks
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-read-wins
Before I start my review I just want to say that I won this in a giveaway and once again, I am grateful to Goodreads and the authors who participate in the giveaways.

I think the fact that I finished this book in 2 days clearly shows that when I say I couldn't put in down, I mean it. The mystery, intrigue and characters in this book got a grip on me and just would not let go. A part of me almost wished I carried on with law (although my dismal A-level results would argue with me there.

When it co
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first foray into a legal thriller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. William Benson is a very likable and driven character, however remains somewhat of an enigma. Just enough is disclosed of his past as to why he received life imprisonment for murder but there remains some questions over his innocence over the course of the book. He is supported by an unknown benefactor while in prison to study law. He is joined by talented barrister Tess de Vere who was a 19 year old law student who spoke ...more
Kim Ebner
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s been many years since I’ve read a legal thriller and this one didn’t disappoint. I’m an absolute sucker for gripping courtroom scenes, where the prosecutor and the defence attorney battle it out against each other. I love the clever dialogue, the wit, the attorney / witness interactions and of course, the moments of brilliance when an attorney whips out with something that floors the witness and stuns the jury. This book had most of those elements and so I was happy. This is a detailed and ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you enjoy John Grisham novels then this book is for you. A legal mystery and subsequent investigation of not only one but two murders 16 years apart, but the writing of John Fairfax is based in England rather than America (like Grisham) and therefore seems more relevant and accessible to a reader in the UK.

It is obvious that the author is an expert in legal technicalities and these are what William Benson has studied whilst in prison making him a formidable and unexpectedly clever opponent i
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author’s masterful writing skills are beautifully demonstrated in this hard to put down little novel. The story telling is tight, detailed, and well structured. I couldn’t help but feel deeply for the protagonist and root for his success. There are so many ups and downs in his pursuit for justice, both for himself and for his clients, that trigger a flood of endorphins and oxytocin I found myself foregoing food and drinks for the better part of a day. Absolutely stunning penmanship! Without ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Summery Justice is the first in a new legal series by John Fairfax which features the team of William Benson and Tess de Vere as the crime fighting duo. Although I have a couple of John Grisham courtroom dramas on my reading pile I am yet to pick them up, I think the size of them is slightly intimidating. Summery Justice is a fairly short book at just 294 pages, so is the ideal book to break into this genre. Initially I did find the amount of legal jargon used at the beginning a little overwhelm ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book has two main story lines. One is that William Benson is defending a woman accused of murder and with a seemingly hopeless case. The other storyline is William himself. He is a controversial barrister because he is a convicted murderer who has many secrets waiting to be uncovered. This book was very good because the character of a William really draws you in, leaving you sympathetic but also keen to find out the rest of the mystery surrounding him. I also enjoyed his brilliance in court ...more
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John Fairfax is the pen name of William Brodrick who practised as a barrister before becoming a full-time novelist. Under his own name he is a previous winner of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award and his first novel was a Richard and Judy selection.

Other books in the series

Benson and De Vere (3 books)
  • Blind Defence (Benson and De Vere, #2)
  • Forced Confessions (Benson and De Vere)

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