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Final Witness [Paperback]

Simon Tolkien
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011

A gripping courtroom drama combining psychological suspense and political intrigue from the pen of ex-barrister-turned-crime novelist Simon Tolkien, grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien.

It’s the trial - and scandal - of the decade: Greta Grahame, the beautiful young wife of Minister of defence Sir Peter Robinson, is accused of conspiring to murder her predecessor, Peter’s first wife, Anne.

The prosecution case depends heavily on the evidence of one witness - Greta’s sixteen-year-old stepson, Thomas.

A dreamy, bookish boy, Tom was present but hidden on the night two men broke into their ancestral home, The House of the Four Winds, and killed his mother. His testimony steadfastly links Greta to the hitmen.

But the boy’s motives are unclear. Is he so crazed by grief that he would frame his stepmother for murder? Or are his feelings toward Greta more complicated than anyone realizes? Might he actually be jealous of his father, jealous enough to destroy what remains of his own family? Or is he telling the truth - that this cunning young woman will stop at nothing in her pursuit of wealth and status?

Simon Tolkien combines compelling courtroom drama and classic psychological suspense in this sharply etched page-turner.

Previously published in 2003 as The Stepmother.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007444508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007444502
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


“Half Christie and half Grisham – with a certain panache.” — Los Angeles Times

“A legal thriller ripped from tomorrow’s headlines … a remarkably skillful novel, brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed.” — Washington Post

“A very British thriller, it deals with the notions of class, privilege and inheritance, but also a healthy dose of earthy sexual tension … a page turner.” — Daily Mail

“Makes you desperate to find out what happens in the end.” — Sunday Telegraph

“Simon Tolkien has the potential to become the British John Grisham. Writing in the shadow of his grandfather is certainly no easy task, but with clever plot twists, capable handling of courtroom scenes, and an unerring ability to build suspense, he has proven in Final Witness that he can uphold the family name.’ BookPage

About the Author

Simon Tolkien was a successful Criminal Justice barrister in London specializing in serious crimes before moving to California with his wife and two children to take up writing full time. He has been acclaimed as a naturally gifted storyteller with a terrific command of language and a unique perception into the darker sides of human nature. The grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, with whom he had a very special relationship, Simon Tolkien’s writing is set firmly in this world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of a new Tolkien fan club. 14 Jun 2003
nameA whodunnit in the classic mould with the 'perp' unnamed until the final chapters. Tolkien weaves us a tale of coutroom intrigue and flawed relationships which effortlessly draws us in. Interestingly it is not simply that we don't know if the accused is guilty but whether any of the witnesses have hidden motives that drives this plot. This subtle shift from the staple crime plot gives the book a freshness I enjoyed. The use of multiple perspectives in this context is fascinating as we get a glimpse inside each charaters head but never enough to be sure of the truth. I really enjoyed this book and felt that it was original in almost every way. So many crime books feel similar this is a breath of fresh Suffolk air.
Of course people are going to think of 'The Lord of the Rings' given not only the authors name but his relationship to JRR Tolkien but for better or worse this is a totally different type of book. The main similarity is the quality of writing but do look out for one or two names etc which are reminiscent of The Shire.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new book from a new Tolkien 20 Sep 2003
By A Customer
The name Tolkien certainly carries before it a weighty reputation (the author is JRR’s grandson). But THE STEPMOTHER lives up to all expectations – though a million miles away from the LORD OF THE RINGS. This novel is a psychological suspense/courtroom drama, with some cracking sexual tension between the stepmother of the title – beautiful and mysterious Greta Grahame – and the two main players – Peter Robinson MP and his teenage son. It had a very ‘classic’ mystery feel to it – part Patricia Highsmith, part PD James, part Hitchcock screenplay!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced 12 April 2007
By misty
This story is gripping and moves at a pace which ensures you'll keep reading. One slight criticism is that the ending didn't really surprise me and I was still expecting some sort of twist right up until the last page. You can almost see this story being transformed into a made for TV movie. However, that's not to detract from the factors which make this enjoyable, which are that it's an interesting story, well told, with believable and intriguing characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Stepmother 27 Nov 2005
By A Customer
A good crime thriller, with pace, this made for an excellent holiday read. This was a who-dunnit with twists in the story and some well developed characters in a complex plot that held its secret well to the end. The tease centres round the death of a man´s second wife. The obvious candidate for the killing appears to be the adolescent son, whose relationship with his stepmother and father are explored in a sophisticated way. But one is never far away from the realisation that many people carry dark secrets and sometimes the past has compelling ways of imposing upon the present. Cleverly applied intrigue mean that gradual disclosures of information shift one´s perspectives. Difficult to put down once the story had begun to develop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stepmother - Review 25 July 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
A true thriller from start to finish. This story benefits from an author who has a comprehensive understanding of the English Legal system from his work as a barrister, a sharp wit and a compelling story line. The risk taken of challenging our conventional expectations pays off. This is a thoroughly good story from beginning to surprising end. An impressive first novel - the next is eagerly awaited!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad practice by publisher 4 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I started to read this book and thought that it seemed familiar somehow. It is somewhat similar to to his book The Stepmother. Let's face it, it is the same book published under two titles. Thanks a lot to the publishers for what is a total mis-representation and just another way of making money. It seems corrupt to me and I will NOT be buying any more of this author's books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Final witness by Simon Tolkien 7 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Final Witness is a court-room drama - a good read, though flawed, hence the four not five stars.

The wife of the Minister of Defence, Sir Peter Robinson, has been brutally murdered in her family home on the coast. The only witness is her teenage son. The suspect - the Minister's PA/mistress and soon-to-be new wife Greta. Did Greta arrange her rival's death under cover of a burglary? According to the witness testimony of young Thomas - yes.

Editors often advise against the use of distorted timelines, but Tolkien has used this device to good effect here. The reader never loses track of whereabouts in the narrative we are despite the frequent flashbacks. The switches in pace between the fast-moving court-room exchanges and emotive flashback reminiscence work very well indeed.

I do have criticisms of the book though. I don't think the author did a particularly good job of manipulating reader sympathy: I cannot say too much as it would be a plot spoiler, but I felt, once I reached the denouement, that the reader had been made to sympathise with the wrong character(s). Some of the characterisations weren't quite right - Thomas and his best friend Matthew frequently sounded like adults, not teenage boys - some more work on these characters' voices wouldn't have gone amiss therefore.

Definitely a recommended read though - the plot is well-conceived and absorbing.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The book itself wasn't great 29 May 2013
By Pitufo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book itself wasn't up to expectations.The plot was foreseeable within the first ten pages,and relied too much on contrived coincidences.

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Published 1 month ago by martynroberts3
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow start but overall enjoyable
The book is slow to start with and the characters are a little wooden. However it does pick up and is worth staying with as overall it is enjoyable. Read more
Published 17 months ago by glenn powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad at all
Final Witness is the second book by Simon Tolkien I have read - the other one being The Inheritance - and I was not disappointed at all. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Thomas Koetzsch
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
A gripping novel with an excellent storey line, made me keep flicking my Kindle pages like I was part of the novel.
Published 19 months ago by Gail Kenyon
2.0 out of 5 stars Where was Inspector Trave?
The court scenes were good, lawyer's eye was evident, but the basis of the story was too farfetched for my liking. Also Inspector Trave was conspicuous by his absence. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars I begrudge giving it even one star
Awful, awful stuff. The story's a snooze, the characters are wooden and uninvolving. The writing ... good grief. What can I say? Read more
Published 23 months ago by liveenl
3.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read...
I enjoyed this debut novel. 'The Stepmother' is well paced and gritty and I felt the character development was spot on. Read more
Published on 17 Nov 2008 by LittleReader
5.0 out of 5 stars final witnes
this is the same book as " the stepmother "but with a different title so don't be fooled into buying it if you already have " the stepmother"," final witness" was the name given to... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2004 by liz Bentley
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