‘”God Raymond. You take everything so literally. Can’t you tell when a person is lying to you?”‘
A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers, the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance, begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school. But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?
What I thought
I loved the twists and turns in this book. I’m already a fan of Constance and Judith as individual characters as well as a team. I really enjoyed seeing how the pair of them grew into the characters I already loved. Judith is coming from a point of retirement at the beginning of the book and it’s Constance who pulled her out of it. This small beginning of their relationship puts a nice twist on it and reasoning for why the pair work so well together. I also enjoyed how Constance was a fan of Judith’s work but once she began working with her got annoyed with her as a person and the way she as left behind at times. The two bounced off each other really well (as I knew they would) and what starts as professional courtesy becomes friendship.
As it’s from the point of view of the defending lawyers it’s not about finding who did it. Raymond is arrested for it in the first couple of chapters, and this allows for a very fast paced and different type of crime book. it’s about trying to prove a negative which without an alibi is impossible. And Raymond is without one and his every answer only seem to help the prosecution.
He’s a really interesting character, his behaviours clearly put him somewhere on the autistic spectrum, with his obsessions and the way he treats people and is unable to understand social cues. There were times while reading that I felt uncomfortable, due to the way he would just deadpan stare at people and was so intent on trapping himself in his mind. it felt like he was staring out at me and trying to see all my deep secrets. I can’t imagine I would have ever been able to return his stare. it’s disconcerting to say the least. but when he did start explaining more later in the book (and I’m being as spoiler free as possible) it almost made me more uncomfortable due to his way of seeing the world and his place in it. He just felt a bit ‘icky’ to use a simple word and without giving anything away.
The idea of Pinocchio – computer software that can perfectly tell if someone is lying – being used in court is a really interesting and uncomfortable one. Seeing that play out was really intriguing, especially because Judith is desperate for it to not be used. I would love to know if this idea is already something that’s floating around – at least as an idea. Abi Silver is a lawyer by trade and it’s clear that the idea of using artificial intelligence is one that she disproves of. The idea of having something that cannot be fooled making our lives a lot easier is great, in theory. But in practice there are so many ways it can go wrong. If you can get 100% true statements from the accused then what’s the point of going to court in the first place. You just ask them a few questions and then either let them go or punish them. And that is the way dystopia fiction lies.
Crime is uncomfortable because it can be so personal, because it’s human and there should be difficult conversations about it and about how to punish people because as much as fairy tales tell us otherwise the world isn’t black and white. And people who know otherwise tend to be like Pinocchio and are able to just flick their cricket of a conscious away.
Why I read it
I was sent a copy of ‘The Aladdin Trial’ by Lightening books for review, it was the first book I had been sent and although it wasn’t my normal genre I was really interested and loved it. About two or three days after finishing Aladdin I ordered this one from my local bookshop. I wanted to know how Judith and Constance met and where their story began.
Read my review of ‘The Aladdin Trial’ here, and my interview with Abi Silver for her blog tour here.
This book was so good and so engaging that I got off the train reading it to finish the last few pages. I finished it while still on the platform, and then realised that my phone was no longer in my pocket and I had left it on either the train that was pulling out of the station now, or on the train before that. Luckily it was on the one I had just got off so I went on an ‘adventure’ for an hour there and an hour back to go collect it from just outside of Portsmouth.
And the only thing that really bugged me while I was making this journey? I had already finished my book so didn’t have anything to read. Nor did I want to read anything else as I was still too caught up in that world and wasn’t ready to leave it yet.
Would I recommend? If crime is your thing this would be one of the first ones I’d suggest.
I’ve passed it over to my dad who loved Aladdin Trial too and am looking forward to hearing what he thinks;
Popsugar: Problem facing society today
I’ve just looked back at my earlier review of Abi’s work and wow, I’ve moved on since then. It was only 5 months ago but I feel like my blog has really grown since then and I’ve grown in my skills too.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, and also let me know if you ever go back and look at some of your early blog posts.