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The Cinderella Plan: A legal thriller with a topical AI twist (Burton & Lamb legal thrillers): 3 Paperback – 11 July 2019
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- Paperback : 448 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1785631276
- ISBN-13 : 978-1785631276
- Dimensions : 12.7 x 2.79 x 20.32 cm
- Publisher : Lightning Books (11 July 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: 551,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
‘It is Abi Silver’s imaginative touches as well as her thorough legal knowledge that make her courtroom thrillers stand out’ – Jake Kerridge
‘Who will be to blame in the event of an accident? The person inside the car? The car manufacturer itself? The software engineers? All these questions and more are bought into sharp focus by Abi Silver’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Was the man in the driving seat or the car itself responsible for the fatal accident? And is it the AI or the flaws of the humans involved in creating it that poses the greater danger? Tense thriller wrought from a cutting-edge subject’ – The Times
‘The Burton and Lamb series always provides excellent courtroom moments and a thoughtful exploration of an area of life where technology is likely to make a big difference in the not-so-far-off future’ – Crime Review
‘Abi Silver has carved a niche exploring the moral and practical issues thrown up by technology, and how the law responds. She is adept at turning complex legal debate into compelling legal thrillers ...If The Cinderella Plan finds its way on to your holiday reading list, expect to deliver a favourable verdict’ – Jewish Chronicle
‘More a whatdunnit than a whodunnit... it is a good story which discusses factual issues society will have to tackle. Previous books by the author have won well-deserved praise’ – Law Society Gazette
"An enjoyably elaborate and distinctive variation on the courtroom thriller." --Martin Edwards, author, the Lake District Mysteries
"An appealing and involving plot with a strongly contemporary flavour, and an unexpected and very engaging denouement." --Ted Childs, creator, Kavanagh QC
About the Author
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This particular case for our intrepid pair involves self drive cars, a subject that has intrigued me for a while, not sure I’d get into them seeing as this is the second book I’ve read where things have not gone that well…
The author deals with the technology side very immersively, some fascinating and thought provoking detail embedded into a clever and involving mystery. The court scenes as ever are brilliant and you are never quite sure where these stories are going to end up.
The Cinderella Plan has a dark emotional level that plays into the rest and overall it was a brilliant page turner of a read which to be honest I’ve come to expect from this author.
Three books into this series and I am most definitely along for the ride. I’ll drive myself though I think…
Firstly, he is the CEO of a company that is marketing autonomous cars-technically, the vehicles should not be capable of an accident. There are many vested intetrests in seeing James' ideas crash and burn-the transport minister and insurance firms have grave concerns about multi million pound payouts, traffic control and how quickly this tech can be rolled out.
Secondly,rival manufacturers, and people even closer to home may have been responsible for sabotaging the vehicle-but could an accident have actually been just that, an accident?
How far are we, as humans, prepared to outsource our decision making to technology? Whose responsibility is it when it fails and a 'never event' such as happens here occurs? And can someone with amnesia, damaged in the crash be held accountable when they don't even remember what they have done?
‘You don’t need to play my conscience. It goes without saying that it’s an absolute
tragedy. That poor family. But two thousand fewer deaths per year, insurance premiums cut by eighty per cent.
That’s how driverless cars were sold to us, if I remember correctly. There must be some very red faces in high places right now. And the driver should not be held liable if he relinquished control. Even so, he’s going to need a good set of lawyers.'
An intriguing, occasionally terrifying (for a Luddite like myself) future glimpse into the crossover between AI and everyday life, the book is split into the accident, the roles of each of the key players before the accident and finally the courtcase. In doing this you are hit by the shock of the deaths,followed by a recreation of who the victims and their family were, deepening the emotional impact before the legal wrangling of responsibility, culpability and recompence.
With a heartbroken CEO, the public baying for blood, and shareholders snapping at their heel, the link between personal decision making and the development of autonomous cars to reduce human error, 'The Cinderella Plan' examines how far tech can go in the reduction of human error. The EDR (event data recorder) and its recovery could either damn or save James.
The conversation between the lawyers and VERA (the car's version of Siri/Alexa) is particularly thrilling as Judith tries to trick and outwit her and fails at every point,it reaffirms that the job of the functioning car is to preserve human life by acknowldegement and sensing of actual facts. There is no emotion attached to this whatsoever. It plants the seeds of doubt in the reader that James was responsible for the accident. However the guilty party is identified, 2 children have lost their lives so even in the event of Burton and Lamb winning their case, the effects of this accident are going to be lifelong as well as life altering. With the husband of an injured wife, and father of two dead children, Neil Layton, is trying to raise a social media petition to block the members bill going through Parliament to roll out the SEDA cars, up to now they have been trialled in secrecy.
Burton and Lamb not only have to establish the facts in the case, they need to juggle media and government level interference. And when they start examining safe places to cross the road, and it appears that a sleep deprived mother who has just returned to work was struggling to manage her 2 mobile children and a pram, things get very nasty indeed...
An absolute barnstormer of a thriller, I am totally in thrall to the talents of Abi Silver in creating such a moral minefield of a story , with such a shocking impact. I don't normally 'go for' legal thrillers as the legalese can often leave me lost, but I found this was straightforward to follow.
The Cinderella Plan is the scheme by which the SEDA cars were to be sold to the public as a solution to human fault in car accidents-however, instead of being the glass slipper which gives us a happy ending, it turned back into a pumpkin when the clock struck midnight.
A very highly recommended legal thriller for readers who like morally ambiguous thrillers that make you think further than establishing whodunnit. I am looking forward to following this up with 'The Pinocchio Brief'
Okay next up, let me introduce you to the author real quick, The Cinderella Plan was written by Abi Silver, a lawyer and author who lives in Hertfordshire, but is originally from Yorkshire. This will be her third published book featuring Judith Burton and Constance Lamb. You can find out more about the author by checking out her site, and support the author by following her on Facebook and Twitter.
Now a quick bit about the book before we get on to the review properly, It’s called The Cinderella Plan, and as I mentioned above it’s the third installment in a series featuring a legal representatives, Judith Burton and Constance Lamb. They previously featured in The Pinocchio Brief (which was published in 2017) and The Aladdin Trial (which was published in 2018). The Cinderella Plan follows an entrepreneur who is on trial after the self driving car designed by his company crashes into a young family, he is on trial and he risks either losing his personal freedom or his company that he worked so hard for. Burton and Lamb are called in to defend him, and work our fact from fiction, and even manage to discuss issues regarding technologies impact in our lives.
Let’s hope that sounds appealing, but now on to the actual review, first off even though this is the third standalone book in the Burton and Lamb series, it’s my first time reading it, but by this point, I can already tell that the author is becoming more polished in regards to style and character. It’s also worth noting that as a Lawyer herself the author can provide a much needed realism to the proceedings, but as an author, she can also pick and choose when you digress from reality for a better story. It’s pretty much what I like about police procedurals except this more closely follows the court aspect of the crime, which is different from what I usually read but was very interesting nonetheless.
So I touched on the character above, being dropped in the middle of things in the third book in a series, standalone or otherwise, can be a little daunting but to be honest you still get a strong grasp of who the characters are. Additionally, the character of James, the defendant in the case comes across so real, you really connect with the central human conflict of this story, he’s truly stuck between a rock and a hard place and you engage with his dilemma because not only is it understandable but also it’s riveting because you can feel what he is feeling.
I also mentioned above that I don’t usually read courtroom thrillers, no particular reason why, and it’s strange as I love crime fiction in general. Perhaps because what I enjoy most is the story unravelling and being solved, whereas by the time it comes to court that should already have been wrapped up. Perhaps this is just a fallacy though, but I can say that Abi Silver’s novel has certainly opened my eyes to the appeal of a courtroom thriller, particularly one as engaging and well researched as this one. So I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more books Silver in the future, and will also be more open to reading courtroom thrillers as well.
I don’t want to spoil this book by revealing too much but honestly this is such an engaging story, it has real world applications regarding technology and self-driving cars, self-responsibility vs corporate responsibility and even ruminations on right and wrong seen through the veil of law, and defending someone who might want to go to jail, innocent or not to protect their greater legacy.
So with all that in mind I can recommend you check out this book, it’s honestly a must read and I give it a solid 5/5.
Anyway now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let me tell you a little about the author, Lorraine Mace, this isn’t her first book in fact she’s the author of The Writer’s ABC Checklist, Vlad The Inhaler – Hero In The Making and Notes From The Margin. You can find out more about Lorraine by checking out here website, and I hope to get an Interview with her in the next few weeks as well. You can also follow the author on Twitter to keep up to date.
Okay, now a little about the book itself, it’s crime fiction which happens to be my favourite genre, and so I was super excited to get a copy to read, it was published on the 13th December 2018, just a couple of days before my birthday for anyone who’s an ardent fan of this blog and want to note the date down in their diaries. The book was published by Accent Press, and you can follow that link to check out more about them and other books they’ve published.
So now to my thoughts, feelings and opinions on the book, I’ve been accused of being overly positive in my reviews, and I can see where that might be true, but while I aim to be positive that’s never at the expense of honestly of objectivity, I just like to focus on the positives because even a book that has issues still has merit, but in this case I feel completely justified in saying that I love this book.
I’ve been a huge fan of the police procedural for years now, authors such as Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver all managed to write these complex characters that walked that thin blue line, while dealing with their own lives, and we can now add Lorraine Mace to that list of authors who can craft superb stories of suspense and crime. Retriever of Souls, is the first book in a series and it’s truly engaging, I am a notoriously fast reader but even I was amazed with how quickly I absorbed this book, it just hooks you and grabs you tight until your done.
Lorraine was careful to make sure that her main character wasn’t some perfect force for good, he’s complex has demons and actually seems to be influenced by the choices he’s made and the things he needs to do. In fact, you have to seriously question whether Sterling can put aside his problems to deal with the main conflict of the story, and when that happens to be a particularly dangerous killer who is murdering people according to his own views on purity.
Honestly though I don’t want to spoil too much, but Retriever of Souls is a wonderfully crafted novel that doesn’t remind me too much of anything else. It’s filled with all sorts of twists and turns that not only kept me hooked till the last page but also made me excited for the next instalment in the series. So with all of that in mind I think I’ll give this book a 4/5. If you want to grab a copy for yourself then head on over to Amazon UK or Amazon US depend upon where you are in the world. And of course make sure you enjoy!