Book Reviews

The Gardens Of The Dead (Father Anselm Novels) by William Brodrick

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List Price: £9.99


Paperback: 352 Pages.

Published: 04 September 2008 by Abacus

ISBN: 0349121125

EAN: 9780349121123

Elizabeth Glendinning QC has lost faith in the legal system. In an attempt to restore it, she has secretly devised a scheme to bring back to court a guilty man - Graham Riley - whom she had successfully defended some ten years before. As part of an elaborate contingency plan, Elizabeth leaves the unsuspecting Father Anselm with a key to a safety deposit box, to be opened in the event of her death. Three weeks later she is found dead in the East End of London and, once the box has been opened, a chain of events is triggered as if from beyond the grave, leading Anselm to fulfil what Elizabeth has begun.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Anne

Plot completely unbelievable

When Elizabeth dies she leaves a puzzle to be solved and the person she has chosen to do this is Father Anslem who before he became a monk was once a practising barrister. Elizabeth has been obsessed with the case of a man who she had successfully defended who she later discovered was guilty and she wants to fix this. She has hidden her clues and it is Anslem's role to follow the trail.

This is well written and the author is excellent at creating atmosphere and a sense of place. He presents moral issues and explores them in his plot. The book is not filled with action but the characters and what does happen seems very realistic if you accept the major flaw of the book.

The problem with the book is the plot. Firstly, it seems very unlikely that a successful barrister would have the attack of conscience that Elizabeth has here. It is not, and never has been, the job of the advocate to make any form of judgement about the guilt of an individual. It is their role to present the case for the defence and to test the case for the prosecution - if the case isn't good enough then the person who has been charged is decreed not guilty. It appears that Anselm is also complicit in that he asked a question in court that caused the prosecution's case to fail - I accept that he feels unhappy about the grief that this caused but it was his job and he appears to have done it well. This all seems very unlikely.

Equally unlikely is the whole puzzle and the hidden clues. Why on earth didn't Elizabeth just tell Anselm what he needed to know rather than engineer such a performance ? Entrusting an important piece of the puzzle to a man with no short term memory wasn't exactly a work of genius either.

The plot was unbelievable, the motivations unlikely but the writing and plotting, after you have accepted the preposterous, clever.

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