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by Anne Perry
Ballantine, August 2013
352 pages
$30.00 CDN
ISBN: 0345536703

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Can acting in the name of justice be more important than following the law? This is the question at the heart of Anne Perry’s latest novel in the William Monk series, BLIND JUSTICE. William Monk, Commander of Thames river police, and his wife Hester work to save their dear friend Sir Oliver Rathbone from being found guilty and sent to prison. Sir Oliver is now a judge. His long and impressive record of working in the British court system as a barrister has earned him this high position. His personal life is in shambles, however, as his wife Margaret has left him. She has great animosity toward him because he did not prevent her father from being found guilty of murder. Sir Oliver knows that her father was guilty of that and more, but Margaret believes that her husband was disloyal in not finding a way to prove her father innocent.

The book opens with Hester learning that a woman who works in her clinic is distraught about her own father's situation. He has given away his life savings and more to the minister of a church that he attends. Hester soon discovers that this preacher uses wholly unethical means, basically extortion, to persuade his parishioners to give beyond their means to a charity that he describes to them, one that helps to feed and clothe the poorest of the poor. Hester suspects that the preacher himself, a man named Abel Tate, is the real recipient of their monies. She and her adopted son Scruff attend one of the church services and she becomes convinced of the preacher's insincerity. Hester has her bookkeeper, Squeaky Robinson, investigate the church records and he finds definite evidence of financial fraud.

The case is assigned to Sir Oliver's courtroom. It seems that Tate will be found guilty until the lawyer representing him calls a witness, Robertson Drew, who convincingly lays waste to the testimony of the people that Tate has ruined. Sir Oliver realizes he knows something quite damning about Drew. He is torn, and in his anguish to see justice done for these victims, he makes a reckless choice that he knows may not be correct. The past comes back to haunt him as he uses information that he was given from a previous case. He supplies this information to the defense attorney. His actions have both expected and unexpected repercussions, but it seems undeniable that he was not being impartial and was seeking to influence the course of the trial. This goes against the whole court system, which is based on the judge not taking sides.

Sir Oliver is arrested, and the future looks grim. He has made many enemies in his years as a lawyer. It might be difficult to find someone to represent him. And if he is found guilty, which seems likely, he will be imprisoned with people he himself helped put away. Behind bars, he would be in grave danger. Perry keeps the tension high as Sir Oliver's situation becomes more desperate. The courtroom drama is riveting and the reader does not know whether or not he will escape a dire fate. Although this book harkens back to a previous one in the series that dealt with unsavory issues, BLIND JUSTICE deals mostly with issues of judgment and ethics. It is a book that will keep the reader up late hoping to discover how it all plays out.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, September 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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