Author: Olly Jarvis
Publication Date: 29 January 2018
Genre: Legal Thriller
Previous books in the series: Cut-Throat Defence
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Olly Jarvis’ new contemporary legal thriller, Unconvicted, and a big thank you to Ellie Pilcher from Canelo for inviting me to take part in the tour.
In a razor-sharp legal thriller, Jack Kowalski must win two challenging trials to save his reputation and his career.
Junior barrister Jack Kowalski is crushed. His client Timothy Smart appears to have committed a monstrous crime while on bail – a bail application Jack fought hard to win.
When a high-profile Polish footballer is charged with rape and demands a fellow countryman represent him, Jack must overcome his guilt and get back to work. Before long he takes on a second case, a GBH for instructing solicitor Lara Panassai, who Jack remains desperate to impress. But neither case is what it seems, and Jack will face an extraordinary uphill battle to see that justice is done…
The second Jack Kowalski novel, Unconvicted is a gripping courtroom drama written with the expert insight of a practicing criminal barrister, perfect for fans of William L. Myers, Deborah Hawkins, and Scott Turow.
If you have read my reviews of Death by Dangerous and Cut-Throat Defence, you will understand how excited I was to get my hands on Unconvicted, which is the second book in the Jack Kowalski series.
Unconvicted raises a question – how do you defend someone who you believe to be guilty of a terrible crime? English criminal law provides for a presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise and Jack has to put his own suspicions aside to give them the best defence he can. But how would you feel if you were to help a monster go free…?
The first thing to say is that Jarvis certainly knows how to write engaging characters. Jack Kowalski is multi-layered and fallible, which humanises him and makes him a credible character. Jack has integrity, a strong moral compass and a significant amount of self-doubt. Whilst having to show a confident exterior to a watching world, he constantly questions himself, his abilities and his profession. It is satisfying for to watch his character develop throughout the book, proving to the reader that he can live up to their expectations of him.
The second thing to highlight is the plot. Jarvis is a working barrister and his experience gives a real air of authenticity to the story. His writing conveys the relentless pressures that barristers experience on a daily basis – difficult clients, even more difficult instructing solicitors, unreliable witnesses, late nights, cases overrunning, last-minute instructions, mind games from opposing counsel, legal and procedural restrictions etc. – all whilst someone’s reputation and liberty lies in their hands. Whilst criminal law if undoubtedly a fascinating area, it is certainly not a career for the faint-hearted!
The plot is complex and well-constructed, a perfect balance between the crimes and the courtroom procedure. It would be easy for someone in Jarvis’ line of work to over-encumber the story with legalese and technical legal/courtroom procedures, however Jarvis cleverly avoids this pitfall and finds the perfect balance between information and entertainment. This is a tale designed to grab the readers’ interest and it will most certainly achieve that aim.
The issues addressed within the book are quite prevalent today (in particular, high-profile sex crimes) and this provides an additional level of interest to the story as the reader will feel that they are given some insight of how the legal profession would potentially approach such cases.
Unconvictedproves to be yet another superb book from Jarvis. It is fast-paced, intelligent and thought-provoking, making it a totally enthralling read – just what I want from a legal thriller. Having been accustomed to getting my fix of courtroom thrillers based on the US legal system, it is great to find an author who writes legal thrillers based around the English legal system . It goes to show how fascinating our own legal system can be!
With his first book, Jarvis leaped straight onto my list of favourite authors and with Unconvictedhe has again reaffirmed his place on that list.
Whilst the book can be read as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading Cut-Throat Defence first. It is a fantastic book and will provide some helpful context and background to both Jack and Lara and to their friendship.
About the Author
Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now working in Manchester. Drawing on his experiences, he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the courtroom. He wrote the highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement, and wrote and presented the BBC documentary Mum Knows Best. He is also the author of Death by Dangerous. Olly has two children and lives in Cheshire.
Don’t forget to catch up with the rest of the Unconvicted blog tour by visiting the blogs listed below: