Sophie Angel is the night lawyer. Once a week, she’s the one who decides what the papers can and can’t say.
During the day, she’s a barrister. She struggles for justice in a system that’s close to collapse, where she confronts the most dangerous aspects of humanity.
Her life changes when a wealthy Russian offers her the biggest case of her career, a rape trial with a seemingly innocent client.
But is someone manipulating Sophie from the shadows? With her marriage under strain and haunted by nightmares from the past, Sophie must find the answer to these questions before it’s too late.
There was so much to The Night Lawyer that it is was quite hard to know how to review. Not only was it a fantastic crime novel, but Churchill also managed to highlight those little anomalies in law, the need to wrap up a crime irrespective of the consequences for those involved as well as its inequalities and perspectives.
Sophie, Churchill’s narrator was everything you wanted to admire, intelligent, strong, and motivated to succeed as a barrister. I particularly enjoyed the insights Churchill gave us of a barrister’s world, the perceived riches hard to come by, reputation and respect everything. Her night shifts as a lawyer for a newspaper were an interesting angle that added to the novel as the new owner’s Russian wife and her relationship with Sophie added a more personal touch. one that was intriguing, but only added to Sophie’s woes.
And what of Sophie’s husband, Theo, another barrister, more senior? He was not someone I liked, outwardly selfish, with often little thought for his wife no matter how much she supported him financially. Churchill gave him an edge, made me suspicious and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, but as the novel unraveled and his true colours emerged I disliked him even more and hoped he would get what he deserved.
If her role as a newspaper lawyer gave us one angle, her life as a barrister allowed Churchill to show us the inner workings of this often enclosed world, but also the dilemma’s many in Sophie’s position face. Would we represent someone who was so clearly guilty, or would we stand by our morals and principles? What about the man accused of rape in a society where he was presumed guilty unless proved otherwise? Churchill brilliantly showed a Sophie that clearly found those decisions hard, but ultimately a woman of principle who trusted her own instincts and stuck by what she believed. Her belief in what was right drove her to pursue justice, to be relentless in her protection and safeguarding of her clients. I loved how Churchill made her stand out amongst her peers, a barrister for the good, even if it meant courting danger to herself.
Indeed that danger was almost a sideline, as Sophie’s life slowly crumbled, as her marriage appeared on the brink and murmurings within her chambers, saw colleagues question her personal and professional life. If that wasn’t enough Churchill took us to Sophie’s past life in Russia, her families sudden escape, the mystery that never seemed to be solved. It might have appeared an added distraction, an oddity but it wasn’t. In many ways it enhanced the story, gave reasons for Sophie’s make up, showed a woman who had always had to fight to be who she was. It gave her closure on a hidden part of her life and to me it was the impetus she needed, that gave her the courage to stand up to those who wanted to see her fail.
Churchill May have raised numerous questions but she didn’t lose the essence of what a good crime thriller should be about.
We had the brilliant court room scenes, the tense cross examination of witnesses, the mad scramble for last minute information that simmered in the background. There was tragedy and danger that brought the novel to a thrilling end and left me wondering if perhaps there could be more from Sophie Angel.
I would like to thank Red Door for a copy of The Night Lawyer to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Alex Churchill was a barrister, specialising in serious crime for over three decades, and a writer.