Third and final day of my special feature (before I go and lie down in a darkened room…!), featuring four more books that are part of Book Club Gold. From April 7-10, twelve quality authors writing in a range of genres have come together to offer a book a month to keep your book club talking for a whole year. When you download each free e-book and register your email address, you’ll receive discussion questions for that book. You don’t have to be in a book club to enjoy these books – but if you are, do tell your friends! There’s a Facebook page, where you can discuss the books with the authors – and if you’d like to see the slide show, you’ll find it here.
The first book featured today is A Game of Proof by Tim Vicary.
Discussion question: When we first meet the detective, Terry Bateson, he asks barrister Sarah Newby a key question about her client:
‘How can you ladies bring yourselves to defend a bastard like that? He’s a menace to every woman in Yorkshire. You do realise that, don’t you? Next time it could be someone like you. He’s killed already, you know.’
Sarah replies: ‘I’m not a woman, Terry, I’m a barrister. My job’s to play the game of proof in defence of my client. And when I play, I play to win.’
How do you feel about this argument? Do you feel more sympathy for Terry, or Sarah?
From the author
Three things inspired me to write A Game of Proof – a rapist, a lady in the newspaper, and my daughter.
I’m a teacher of English to foreign university students, and I used to take them to court sometimes to see English justice in action. The rapist – Les – was a very fat, burly man, who filled the dock with his bulk. We were there for the key moment of the trial – the poor woman, his victim, had to give evidence. It was very sordid and humiliating.
A few days later we heard the verdict – not guilty. It was his word against hers, and the jury had believed him. But there was one thing the jury didn’t know. Les had been charged with two rapes – one against this woman, and one against a different woman, on a different day. The prosecutor wanted both cases dealt with in the same trial, but the defence said that wasn’t fair: they were two separate incidents, so there should be two separate trials. The defence won so the jury only tried him on one charge.
I was back in court for the second trial and as I listened I realised I had heard this story before! The previous woman had told exactly the same story, with exactly the same perversions, about exactly the same man. I knew this, and so did the judge, both barristers, the police and the court clerk – but no one told the jury. They weren’t allowed to know and he was found not guilty this time too. I left the court thinking that law and justice were not quite the same thing.
The second thing that inspired me was an article in the Yorkshire Post about a woman who’d grown up in inner-city Leeds, and left school at sixteen. She seemed destined for work in a shop or a factory or possibly on the streets as a prostitute. But she decided to make something of her life. She went to evening classes, got a few qualifications, and at the age of thirty she did a law degree and qualified as a barrister. That’s not easy at all.
I know it’s not easy, because my own daughter – who had the benefit of a good education – became a barrister too. Lots of people don’t make it. It’s an achievement to be proud of.
But how would it feel, I wondered, to be the barrister who had defended Les? To read the almost identical evidence of those women, and then, to save your client, persuade the judge to try the cases separately? And then to win and be congratulated for getting him off?
I asked my daughter about that, and she gave me the title for the book. ‘The law isn’t about justice, Dad. It’s just a game. A Game of Proof.’
One for you, maybe? To get a copy of this book – or any other books in the Book Club Gold promotion – for your e-reader, click on any image in this post. And just another reminder of the full link – http://www.deborahswift.com/instafreebie/. I’ll be back with another great book at 10am.