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Group Read Books - archive > Group Read - The Verdict Part 1 Ch 1-26 Spoilers welcome

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Spoilers welcome!
This segment of the book discussion covers the first part: 132 pages.
If the first to post could provide a short summary to guide the discussion it will be appreciated!


message 2: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments Prologue: Vernon James accepts an award for Ethical Person of the Year with a speech that bends the truth. A blonde bombshell from the audience visits his hotel room afterward. According to his story, she becomes a cold fish, trashes the hotel room, and leaves.
Part I
1: Terry is a law clerk Vernon told the story to. The law firm, KRP, wants Terry to help defend Vernon on murder charges.
2: Terry & Vernon knew each other as kids but had a falling out as teenagers. Terry’s boss Janet tells him the murder victim was a blonde.
3: Terry comes home to wife Karen and kids, one of whom is a precocious biracial boy from Karen’s pre-marital fling.
4: Terry tells Karen his secret that he’d been kicked out of law school not just because he failed exams but because of theft. And Vernon James (VJ) was involved.
5: As kids, Terry stuck up for Vernon, the only black kid at school. They became friends. Vernon’s book smarts motivated Terry to study harder. Both got into Cambridge. Vernon’s emotionally abusive father was stabbed to death around then. Terry gave Vernon an alibi although they weren’t together.
6: Terry goes into their spare room alone. Karen doesn’t “know about the box or picture.” He hopes for VJ’s demise.
7: Terry doesn’t like his job. Arbella, another clerk, is a bitch.
8: Law partner Sid Kopf interviews Terry. He hopes to get passed over by being rude but Kopf likes his bluntness.
9: Terry & Janet take the Tube to the jail. Terry worries his deception will get her in trouble.
10: Terry & Janet arrive at jail, but law clerks can’t enter. Terry stays in the lobby reminiscing about his prior arrests.
11: Janet summarizes the case: Maids found a blonde named Evelyn Bates (not Fabia) strangled in VJ’s bed after he checked out. VJ says he knows nothing about it and refuses to plea. Kopf picks an ill barrister & a recovering alcoholic investigator for VJ’s legal team.
12: Arbella fights an ongoing office war against Terry. Terry calls Swayne, the recovering alcoholic.
13: Janet calls Terry—sitting late in the spare room again. VJ has rejected a plea deal again. With a new witness the case looks even worse.
14: During a preliminary hearing, VJ is formally charged, pleads not guilty, and is remanded to Belmarsh. He doesn’t see Terry.
15: TV news crews film the prison van that takes VJ away.
16: Swayne meets Terry at a dirty restaurant and gives him the prosecution’s file. Swayne says Terry won’t be promoted by KRP after the trial; he’ll be fired.
17: Terry & Swayne go to the crime scene posing as forensics specialists. Terry realizes the body was placed on the bed after the murder.
18: At home, Swayne leaves Terry a photo of Terry at the crime scene—blackmail.
19: Terry meets Christine, the ailing attorney who’ll represent VJ at trial. She indirectly tells Terry to cheat—it’s their only chance to win a lousy case.
20: Terry calls the head of the Hoffmann Trust which gave VJ the award. She agrees to help him identify Fabia.
21: VJ shows no sign of recognizing Terry when he & Janet visit. He explains he changed his clothes in the hotel bathroom, slept on the couch, and never went in the bedroom.
22: Janet tells Terry to pick up VJ’s clothes to drop them off at the jail.
23: At VJ’s house, Terry talks with his wife, Melissa’s, who was Terry’s first love. She dumped him for VJ. Now she acts nice like they could all still be friends.
24: VJ arranges for Terry to visit him at the jail. He tells him he thinks Fabia took his Rolex. Now with his glasses he recognizes Terry.
25: Terry is surprised that VJ acts like nothing happened between them—getting him kicked out of school or stealing his girlfriend.
26: Kopf doesn’t buy the watch story. Terry, feeling he has nothing to lose, is tough on Kopf and plans to find the watch to defend their client.


message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Russ: I've only read the prologue, but wanted to comment that Vernon isn't coming across as a likable character at all is he? He certainly is doing an awful lot of things "wrong" to end up looking terribly guilty of something if one of the blondes ends up dead. He seems to be a target of a set-up. Should be interesting!


message 4: by Russ (last edited Feb 26, 2016 02:34PM) (new)

Russ | 330 comments Ann wrote: "Russ: I've only read the prologue, but wanted to comment that Vernon isn't coming across as a likable character at all is he? He certainly is doing an awful lot of things "wrong" to end up looking ..."

Even as you get farther into it, you may be on the fence like me as to whether Vernon is a character to hate, a character we love to hate, or a character we secretly like. A mixed bag for sure, Ann!


message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Russ: Nice summaries! Thanks for doing the chapter breakdown. I listened to chapters 1-5 tonight on the way home. I'm enjoying the narration of the audio and the introduction of the story as told in Terry Flynt's voice. I haven't read a Nick Stone book before this one and I like his descriptive style.
Terry comes across as a good guy, but one with a past, it will be interesting to see how Vernon and Terry interact after their shared history ended so badly for Terry. I like how the details are revealed and wonder what else Terry is editing and not telling his wife, Karen.


message 6: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments I enjoyed chapters 6-12 with an idea of the potential defense team and more insight into Terry's past. I am intrigued by this upcoming glimpse into the UK legal system. I've read police procedurals, but not legal thrillers set in the UK before that I recall. I suppose we may be like Terry for a while wondering when the shoe will/might drop revealing his connection to Vernon - he seems to be more hurt than angry at how he was treated, maybe....


message 7: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments Ann wrote: "I enjoyed chapters 6-12 with an idea of the potential defense team and more insight into Terry's past. I am intrigued by this upcoming glimpse into the UK legal system. I've read police procedurals..."

I'm with you there, Ann! My only exposure to the British court room before this was watching Charles Laughton in "Witness for the Prosecution," which is dated & theatrical. So The Verdict is a nifty learning experience.


message 8: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 1260 comments I'm only on Chapter 12 but had to take a peek at your comments. A lot of information in each chapter, I feel like I'm reading so slow (smaller print than normal too I think). I agree that so far VJ isn't a very likable character, but haven't had his side of things yet, except for the Prologue. I'm anxious that Terry didn't even disclose that he knew VJ to Janet. So far, very intriguing! Russ, great job on the summaries.


message 9: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments Thanks, Dawn! I felt like the first section was a long read as well. The first section of part 2 is shorter. Too bad the thriller writers don't know to divide their books into six equal parts for our group!


message 10: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Russ wrote: "Even as you get farther into it, you may be on the fence like me as to whether Vernon is a character to hate, a character we love to hate, or a character we secretly like. A mixed bag for sure, Ann! ..."
Kudos on the summary, Russ! Nice and succinct.

I'm about at chapter 30 or so. The audio is moving along nicely. I hadn't read the jacket blurb before starting, so when we began with VJ I wasn't sure whether he was the future accused or the lawyer. That gave me a nice sense of unease as I followed him the night of his speech and the pickup of Fabia and her subsequent attack. I didn't like him much then, but you are right, the author is doing a good job of maintaining that suspicion about his veracity but also keeping alive a small hope that he is innocent. Can't wait to see how this unfolds.


message 11: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Mar 03, 2016 04:29AM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Ann wrote: " I suppose we may be like Terry for a while wondering when the shoe will/might drop revealing his connection to Vernon - he seems to be more hurt than angry at how he was treated, maybe.... .."

I loved how the author made this reveal happen. After VJ gave no sign of recognizing him the first time they were in the same room, his use of Terry's name when they were alone caught me by surprise, even though I knew it had to come some time. Nice!

I have some sense of the British legal system, but more from P.D. James novels and other police procedurals I read, and from PBS courtroom dramas like Rumpole of the Bailey. Not enough to explain the ins and outs. So fascinating. I'm really enjoying this novel. As I said in another thread, I had no idea this was a British PP, so I was overjoyed when I began to listen.

A side note about the narrator -- he gives Terry what I take to be a working class manner of speech, which seems appropriate given his background. But it just made me realize how unusual that is -- most of the main characters in the British procedurals I've read seem to come from more middle-upper class backgrounds, and the accents of the readers reflect that. So it was a bit jarring and took some getting used to.


message 12: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Mar 02, 2016 09:34PM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Dawn wrote: I'm anxious that Terry didn't even disclose that he knew VJ to Janet. So far, very intriguing! Russ, great job on the summaries. ..."

Yes, Dawn, I agree, this made me nervous too. And he also was keeping secrets from his wife about his adventures with VJ and in college. And it appears he is not yet telling her -- or us -- the full story. This is never a good move for a main character, I have to say. If Terry wants my advice he will come clean immediately, LOL!


message 13: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments I am just itching to know why VJ thought Terry stole his diary, and what else Terry is holding back. I suppose Stone is going to dribble out the backstory slowly over the course of the novel. Grrr!

I also have been finding similarities in tone and pace with Tana French's novels, some of which we have read here together. Ann, are you finding that? And a little bit of a Robert Galbraith feel also.


message 14: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Although I am getting a little impatient with Terry and some of his decisionmaking about what to reveal to whom, I really like that this character is not a babe-in- the-woods fresh out of law school, but is older, even though he's in the junior ranks of the law firm. His maturity and perspective gives him a nice edge. When I picked the book up I somehow had the impression that this character was going to be the seasoned lawyer, so the change was refreshing.


message 15: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Carol: I'm glad you are enjoying the audio too . The accents are fun to listen to, he does different voices very well. I don't have enough British narration experience to have caught the distinct class accents but that makes sense. Terry's wife, Karen's accent is really different. The way the narration has her saying "Terry" cracks me up.
and Dawn I agree - the print is rather small in the hardback. I grabbed the library print book as well as the Overdrive audio though 95% of my reading has been listening.
Carol- yes I can see a Tana French and a bit of Robert Galbraith flavor.


message 16: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments I have to add that a first for me was a main character -- the accused -- in a British police procedural who is an educated and financially successful black man. When there was the first reference to his dad being from Trinidad I assumed it was a white man whose family had relocated and then returned to England. It seems like most books I read, wherever they take place, have blacks as lower or working class, and likely a criminal of some kind. As an African-American, I resonate with the addition, even if he might be the villain.


message 17: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 1260 comments You've made me curious about the audio - because another thing I keep stumbling over is the English spelling of words like defence (used a lot) and jeopardise. At first I thought it was a typo but it was repeated so often I googled it. Okay, minor detail. At first I was frustrated with how much was hinted at, but not disclosed when it came to Terry. But I do like how Stone reveals each piece in its pertinent place. I dont think VJ did it (and not because I like him yet, but just my feeling from reading the prologue, but if not, someone went through a lot of trouble to set this up and frame him. I wonder why, and who?


message 18: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Dawn, I'm going to have to look at my print copy now. That's really interesting. I don't recall other print copies of British novels having different spellings, I wonder if they usually change that for American audiences.

I do note, as I'm listening, the different terminology, most of which I can figure out from the context. Like bin liner, which I think is the equivalent of trash bag.


message 19: by Jack (new)

Jack | 179 comments Great summary Russ.
Carol, I too like the way terry is an older low level law clerk rather Tha the high profile lawyer. The hard luck story Is wearing thin with his blaming vj and how often its brought up. His family and the way he met his wife was a great story and makes you sympathize with his situation. There is the concern he is keeping secrets about his past and his alcoholism and violent tendencies make me wonder if there is more to the story between vj, the diary and getting kicked out of cambridge. I love the Christine deveraux character that's going to be fun to read how she fights this case. Also swaynes antics making terry do dubious things is a nice dynamic. Really going to enjoy that continuing and seeing how terry copes with it.
The prologue ending with that's how he explained it opens the story up for a clouded ending with doubt still over whether its a truthful account or edited to deflect guilt. At the moment I'm going for the ride believing it but suspicious something has been left out or changed to create a later twist in our thoughts about his innocence.
Like you Ann I don't like vj as a character. I feel he would do anything to get ahead and get out of trouble.
Enjoying it so far.


message 20: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Russ, I agree with you about the Christine Deveraux character. I like that she is described as a crackerjack trial attorney, but worry that her health issues will surface at some point to derail the trial (I guess that's what Stone is wanting me to do, right? Adds suspense.)

Yes, I think a lot has been left out, and the revelations have the potential of changing how I feel about Terry, Melissa and VJ (at the least).


message 21: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments I wish these sections weren't so long, but it is tough to pick where to break off if the author has created long sections. I keep checking back to see "am I there yet?" in order to move to the next round of posts.


message 22: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments Thanks, Carol, but I think that was Jack's comment about Christine (although I agree & like her too!).


message 23: by Ann (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:57PM) (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Carol: the segments are long. I'm sorry I didn't set up more / shorter comment threads. The part breaks initially seemed like they might be the best natural breaks. I found myzelf posting early before I finished a pqrt with my eyes squinted tho avoid reading comme n ts made ahead of my place.
. Carol/Bonadie wrote: "I wish these sections weren't so long, but it is tough to pick where to break off if the author has created long sections. I keep checking back to see "am I there yet?" in order to move to the next..."


message 24: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Jack, oh yes, the Swayne character's antics and his attitude with Terry really add to the story. I find myself comparing him to all of the various defense investigators from books i have read . He and Terry really seem to be getting into the background of the case. And Terry is quite good at investigative work.


message 25: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Russ wrote: "Thanks, Carol, but I think that was Jack's comment about Christine (although I agree & like her too!)."

Oh yes, you're right. Sorry Jack!


message 26: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Ann wrote: "Carol: the segments are long. I'm sorry I didn't set up more / shorter comment threads. The part breaks initially seemed like they might be the best natural breaks. I found myzelf posting early bef..."

No worries at all, Ann! It's hard too tell what's useful as a break without the hard copy and before seeing how things are unfolding.

I've done the same in previous group reads.. posted early when I couldn't wait, and making sure not to read any of the comments while doing so. I may employ that technique again!


message 27: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 1189 comments Enjoyed the first part of this book though it is a bit of a door stopper. The Prologue set the stage very well though I am trying to keep an open mind about VJ's innocence. I do hope we will learn more about his family background and what really happened to his father. Am a bit wary of Terry especially how upset he got when discussing the diary incident with his wife and his interactions with his co-workers did not show him in the best light either. Like Jack, I do really like Christine Deveraux and Swayne and hope they both have more page time.


message 28: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Glad you are joining us, Sandi! Yes, at this point in the story I was giving Terry the fish-eye because of the sense (I think he even said it) that he was holding details back from Karen.


message 29: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments At this point in the book I felt that Terry was a bit of a glum Eeyore-type character. Sitting in his spare room alone, hating his office life and co-workers, still anguished about VJ. Oh, woe is me. Some guy ruined my life over 15 years ago. I'm sure it was tough, but at some point after being burned you have to grow up & move on.

It's by no means a knock against the book, but that's how Terry came across to me in the beginning.


message 30: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Russ: regarding how Terry comes across - agreed; Terry seems to have a good life, but to not feel that he does. His secrets from Karen and time spent in the spare room are troubling. That aspect of the story adds depth from his emotions and the unknown; what will he do if he has a hard choice to help or hinder VJ's defense down the road..


message 31: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7825 comments Russ's comment reminds me that I'm perplexed about the animosity against him by his colleague, whom he calls Adolph. What's that about? I get professional jealousy, but, really! Her antics sound like grade school.


message 32: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 1260 comments Russ, I love the Eeyore comparison! That a good a good way to describe Terry here.


message 33: by Russ (new)

Russ | 330 comments Dawn wrote: "Russ, I love the Eeyore comparison! That a good a good way to describe Terry here."

:)


message 34: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14306 comments Carol: yes! Adolph stealing Terry's sandwich every day is very childish. I took the inclusion of this mostly one dimensional character as a foil for Terry's outsider status and an indicator of the "normal" sort of snarky, selfish future lawyer that they would hire.


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