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Blood From Stone
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2009
The book starts on a good premise. A prominent and ruthless lawyer who has just got her latest client off commits suicide. What drove her to it? Is it the fact that the main witness in her latest case was so humiliated by her that she killed herself? Can such an uncompromising and cruelly efficient lawyer be moved to remorse? Hardly likely! It makes compulsive reading at first but unfortunately the book doesn't hold on its promise. It soon becomes predictable, sometimes ridiculous and the prose itself is hardly good quality. What's more, as another reader pointed at, it has that major flaw, mainly that the transcript from the case at the heart of the story shows a lawyer using such language to a witness that I feel sure that no judge could let her get away with it. It thereby destroys the book's credibility in a way that its simple structure,easy-to-guess-at ending and lacklustre prose cannot restore.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I loved this book. Comparisons with Patricia Highsmith had me suspicious, but they're pretty fair all in all.

Gripping plot, brilliant characterisation (The Lover and Rick Boyd stand out) and beautiful use of language to evoke some very menacing set pieces ... and the descriptions of Marianne's gowns are stunning.

I'll certainly investigate Frances Fyfield's other titles now.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Although Frances Fyfield has written a surprisingly long list of crime novels during her career, I can only remember reading one of them (I think it was 'Let's Dance,' published under the pseudonym Frances Hegarty) before this one - and I seem to recall that I didn't enjoy it very much. So I was not sure what to expect when I picked up this, her latest thriller, despite it having recently won the 2008 Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers Association.

Happily, I discovered an enjoyable and engrossing tale, although it took a while to get into. Ms Fyfield has a very distinct, rather disjointed prose style which can be a little off-putting; I believe it to have been the reason I didn't enjoy the previous book of hers I read. However, once I became accustomed to the rhythm, the plot took hold and I read the whole thing straight through in a few hours. Briefly, it's the story of a ruthless female defence lawyer who has just won a difficult case by thoroughly humiliating the vulnerable chief witness for the prosecution. The witness kills herself after her second day under cross-examination, and shortly afterwards the barrister herself commits suicide, leaving behind some cryptic clues as to her reasons. Simultaneously, the unstable and dangerous man she successfully defended in her final case is looking for the incriminating notes and recordings she made of their consultations, her unscrupulous brother is out to get his hands of her estate and the sister of the dead witness cannot rest until she sees justice done... Needless to say, all these disparate threads become enmeshed as the story builds to a nerve-shredding final confrontation.

There was only one element which I felt let the book down. Throughout the novel, chapters are interspersed with extracts from the transcript of that final trial which takes place just before the book begins, detailing the female lawyer's damning cross-examination of the prosecution witness and her sister, and I found these sequences unconvincing. I fully realise that Frances Fyfield is a qualified barrister and therefore has a vast wealth of legal knowledge, while my only firsthand experience of court is a brief spell of jury service, but I simply cannot believe that anyone would be allowed to behave the way the defence lawyer does in these extracts. She hurls a stream of vicious personal insults at the witnesses, belittling their appearance, intelligence and career choices, and she completely dominates the judge to the point where she decides when he should call a recess! Yet there are few objections from the opposing counsel. I did watch a hostile cross-examination while on jury duty, but it was nothing like this. If lawyers really are allowed to insult and bully witnesses in such a way, then some new bar regulations are clearly needed.

Despite this quibble, I'd still say the book was a deserving winner at the CWA awards, and would definitely recommend it to any fan of intelligent, slow-burning psychological thrillers.
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2010
Criminal Law Barristers are often asked how they are able to defend cases where they 'know' the defendant is guilty. The 51 year old Marianne Shearer QC revels in her reputation as a defender of the indefensible and here she secures the release of Rick Boyd by brutishly attacking the female witnesses Angel and Hen.

The fall-out from this case is extensive for all its participants, beginning with Marianne's suicide 'with some style'. Ms Fyflield's own legal background provides us with an insight to a nest of vipers based around Lincoln's Inn Fields. The only 'nice' lawyer is the 'arbitrator' who must investigate Marianne's estate and divvy up the proceeds. The search for beneficiaries and justice mixes together the earlier protagonists in a hit and miss crime thriller.

Much research has gone into the seamstress character Hen using her 'nun's stitch for lingerie' and displaying an encyclopaedic knowledge of 20th Century fashion labels. However there were several scenes which were unconvincing and incongruous together with a repeated desire to shock involving broken glass and orifices.

Although this won the CWA Gold Dagger Award for 2008, one glance at some of the now obscure winners in the 1960's and 70's would suggest there is no guaranteed shelf-life for this novel.
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on 12 September 2010
If you can make it past Chapter Five, you will enjoy this book. The first few chapters are confusing, and the lack of speech marks throughout most of the book can make for a tricky read. Once you get to grips with the writing style, it's a good read.
I received the book third hand, from people who had given up on the book early on.

Persevere, and you may be surprised.
Whilst I enjoyed to book eventually, I will not be rushing out to purchase any more books by the same author.
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on 10 March 2013
I have read a number of Frances Fyfield crime novels and she is my favourite writer in that field and like all her other books this one is great and I could not put it down, it is so good.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I find Frances Fyfield the most satisfying of these writers, but I have to say that I found her latest novel, Blood From Stone, slightly disappointing. I suspect that its something to do with the lack of "bite" in this novel that lets it down. Frankly, its a little meandering, taking a very long time to build up, and then lacks the thrill that a thriller really depends on. I found myself counting the pages to the end, wondering when something really significant would happen. Somehow the book lacks suspense, its characters failing to grab my attention, and when a strong character does emerge, there was never quite enough of them for me to be able to relate to them.

The novel concerns the aftermath of an unpleasant court case, during which the prosecution lawyer has been particularly nasty to key female witnesses, causing one of them to take her own life. Later, the lawyer is also seen to commit suicide by a passing photographer, who sells his dramatic pictures to a newspaper. The book then takes the form of a gradual unravelling of the build-up to the case and its aftermath.

The novel is peppered with court transcripts from the trial and personally, I've never liked flashbacks, especially in this case where the flow of the book is interrupted by the stilted format of a court record.

The two villains of this piece Rick Boyd and Frank Shearer are a little too alike, and I found it easy to get them mixed up - both nasty pieces of work, but Rick's domination of Frank seemed a little unrealistic in view of Frank's innate nastiness which surely would have prevented him being so subordinate in the partnership? The main investigator is a lawyer's side-kick Peter Freil who is introduced to us a a bit of a loser, but later and rather unconvincingly transforms himself into a knight in shining armour. The reader gains a first impression of a character from the material presented, and it can be difficult when the character seems to transform during a novel without any visible process going on to initiate the change.

Having said all that, Fyfield is an excellent writer with many fine novels to her name. I find myself looking for deficiencies in my reading of the novel, but don't find it easy to discover any. I think on the whole, that this is just not one of her best, but her past form will still make me wait for the next one with some eagerness.
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on 13 June 2015
easy to read and you don't want to put it down.
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on 15 April 2015
Really enjoyed this book.
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on 13 January 2015
Good read
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