Calling Down the Storm is the story of two separate but strangely parallel lives: the life of a defendant on trial for murder, and the life of the judge who presides over his trial.
April 1971. When DI Webb and DS Raymond receive an emergency call, a horrific scene awaits them. Susan Lang is lying on the ground, bleeding to death. Her husband Henry is sitting nearby, holding a large, blood-stained knife. In shock, Henry claims to have no memory of the events that led to his wife’s death, leaving his barrister, Ben Schroeder, little to defend a potential charge of murder.
Unknown to his strict Baptist wife, Deborah, Mr Justice Conrad Rainer has a secret life as a highstakes gambler. In his desperation for money, he has already raided his own and Deborah’s resources, and now he has crossed another line – one from which there is no return.
To his horror, as the trial of Henry Lang starts, Conrad discovers a sinister connection between it and his gambling debts, one that will cause his world to unravel.
I have always enjoyed a legal thriller, something about the factual details and the pace of the courtroom I think. Calling Down the Storm is no exception to that, I found it had all the ingredients of the genre and I am certainly pleased to add another author to the list of those that I wasn't aware of.
Set in 1971 the book opens with a brutal murder. Susan Lang has been stabbed to death. Her husband Henry is sitting nearby holding the murder weapon. Seemingly in shock he can't remember what happened, Is he a cold blooded killer like everyone seems to think he is. Of course there is a back story, there always is. A messy divorce and ongoing custody battle, sets some dramatic scenes within the plot and the courtroom.
The judge trying the case of Henry Lang is Mr Justice Conrad Rainer, who has enough problems of his own as his personal life is descending into a cycle of chaos. A problem with drinking and gambling is impacting on his career and he calls upon his friends in high places. When the trial commences it becomes evident that there is a person of disrepute that inextricably links Rainer and Lang. Does this cause damage to the trial? Is justice served? and is Lang the only one in the wrong?
I found the parallel elements of this story fascinating and the character driven nature made it very readable and gripping. It raised a lot of questions for me. Such as what happened in the 1970's when father's fought for custody. Is there one rule for the lay man and a different rule for members of the legal system? Was Justice served to all involved?
Gripping, thought provoking and believable. An interesting plot and criminal case that had me turning the pages well into the night. I could easily recommend this one to fans of the genre and perhaps to those who might be trying the genre for the first time. Authentic and believable.
About the Author:
Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and seved for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He has written two political thrillers about the US presidency - Removal and Test of Resolve - and five legal thrillers featuring Ben Schroeder: A Higher Duty, A Matter for the Jury, And is there Honey still for Tea?, The Heirs of Owain Glyndwr and Calling Down the Storm. He lives in Cambridgeshire.
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