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by Frances Fyfield
Sphere, March 2008
336 pages
$19.99 GPB
ISBN: 1847440746

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Marianne Shearer is a leading criminal defence lawyer– or at least she was until she plunged from the window of a Kensington hotel. A case of suicide rather than murder, but one that was illogical in the extreme, since she had just won her latest case in a blaze of publicity – although the prime witness herself committed suicide. Peter Friel, a colleague, is certain that that trial must have had a bearing on Shearer's death and begins to investigate.

Frances Fyfield has created an intriguing novel. It catches the reader's attention when, in reality, it should not, since the majority of the characters are entirely unappealing. We meet a raft of unpleasant lawyers, criminals and other supporting characters and it is extremely difficult for the reader to develop any form of empathy with them. There is also a deliberate strategy of depersonalizing the characters. For example, they are often referred to as 'the Defendant' or 'the Lover', which was clearly how Marianne Shearer, a consummate professional, saw them.

Fans of slow-burning novels will enjoy BLOOD FROM STONE. Even though the events take place over a short period, the use of the trial transcripts and the slow pace of the story-telling mean that the novel feels much longer than it actually is. This gives Fyfield plenty of time to delve into the protagonists' psyche, which she does by switching perspective often, telling the story from various characters' points of view. I found that the actual reason why Marianne Shearer committed suicide seemed rather unrealistic and unlikely, but stranger things have happened and it serves as a useful plot device to hold the story together.

While many readers may find the novel rather slow going, this interesting psychological portrait will appeal to many and further reinforces Fyfield's reputation as an excellent crime writer.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, February 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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