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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 June 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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on 7 December 2012
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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on 20 September 2003
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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on 12 April 2007
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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on 27 November 2005
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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on 25 July 2003
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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on 4 November 2016
Actually an excellent book. Well written and gripping story. However, it is the audio version I have listened to by Oakhill Publishing. My two star review is based on the fact that Simon Tolkien is the reader. He may have inherited his superb writing skills but a narrator he most definitely is not. His tone is monotonous in the extreme; he is unable to give 'voice' to different characters, it's like listening to paint dry. What a mistake Oakhill made allowing him to read. It's a testiment to the quality of the book that I have finished listening to it. What a shame.
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on 3 April 2013
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. only mystery is where the hell is Inspector Trave???
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on 29 May 2013
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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on 10 February 2013
A gripping novel with an excellent storey line, made me keep flicking my Kindle pages like I was part of the novel.
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