A gripping courtroom drama combining psychological suspense and political intrigue from the pen of ex-barrister-turned-crime novelist Simon Tolkien, grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien.
It's the trial - and scandal - of the decade: Greta Grahame, the beautiful young wife of Minister of defence Sir Peter Robinson, is accused of conspiring to murder her predecessor, Peter's first wife, Anne.
The prosecution case depends heavily on the evidence of one witness - Greta's sixteen-year-old stepson, Thomas.
A dreamy, bookish boy, Thomas was present but hidden on the night two men broke into their ancestral home, The House of the Four Winds, and killed his mother. His testimony steadfastly links Greta to the hitmen.
But the boy's motives are unclear. Is he so crazed by grief that he would frame his stepmother for murder? Or are his feelings toward Greta more complicated than anyone realizes? Might he actually be jealous of his father, jealous enough to destroy what remains of his own family? Or is he telling the truth - that this cunning young woman will stop at nothing in her pursuit of wealth and status?
Simon Tolkien combines compelling courtroom drama and classic psychological suspense in this sharply etched page-turner.
Previously published in 2003 as The Stepmother.
©2011 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"Half Christie and half Grisham." (Los Angeles Times)
"A legal thriller ripped from tomorrow's headlines ... a remarkably skillful novel, brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed." (Washington Post)
"Tolkien's skill as a storyteller is worthy of notice in this taut, well-paced legal thriller." (Library Journal)
"The twists keep coming until that last witness. Highly convincing debut." (People Magazine)
"Fast-paced and with suspense to spare, [Tolkien's] debut shows admirable skill and depth and has a conclusion as surprising as it is satisfying." (Dallas Morning News)
"Tolkien's writing has a timeless quality [and] the haunting undertones of other great masters of mystery." (USA Today)
"Part English cozy, part family saga, part courtroom drama, this genre-bending work of fiction is touching and enchanting." (Booklist starred review)
This is author's first book and it shows. I've listened for half hour and cannot bear any more. The characters have no depth and are total cliches. It started badly with 'comedy' villains (you can almost hear the rough 1950's stereotypical cockney crook) It is really dreadful and, regrettably I've wasted my money. I generally finish all books, but this one is impossible. It has left me feeling robbed.
I quite enjoyed this book but unfortunately it was marred for me by the dreary monotone of the narrator. I would have thought that as he is the author, he might have had a better feel for the intrigue and suspense in the book, but sadly I just felt the whole book was let down by his narration. It almost felt that he was seeing and reading the book for the first time - bizarre as he actually wrote it. All the characters sounded alike and it was difficult to work out who was speaking. Shame as I think this could have been a good story, despite the predictable ending, if it hadn't annoyed me so much. Disappointed.
Thoroughly enjoyable listen. Although I thought I knew how it would turn out there were times when I really wasn't sure I'd got it right. A really good who/how done it.
My only criticisms would be that the reader (the author) wasn't necessarily the best choice. He's incredibly dry to listen to and there were times when the only thing that kept me listening was to find out how it ended. I'm also not a fan of swearing, there's really no need to use certain words and it could easily have gone without them.
The story may be good, I don't know as Simon's delivery is toneless, lacking in emotion, slow and torturous.. sorry Simon you really need to get your act together.
I was drawn in from the very start of this novel, and could scarcely put it down even when really tired. I listened to it in 2 days.
The characters were all believable and mostly likeable, and I was eager to follow the events as they occurred. I was quite surprised by the ending, but was still impressed by the whole novel.
Certainly an author I will look for again.
I have only just realised that it was narrated by the author - that too was really nicely done.
This novel came highly recommended by someone who'd read it so I was really looking forward to it. And yes the story is OK, and probably if I'd read it I'd have liked it a lot. But oh, what a mistake to let the author read it himself! His voice is dreary, he has no idea how to make the characters sound different from each other, his sentences tend to fade out at the end, and he even stumbles sometimes. The quality of the narrator is so important for an audiobook and this really has spoiled this one for me. Whoever had this idea -- please think again next time.
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