Guilty Not Guilty by Felix Francis

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Guilty Not Guilty by Felix Francis

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: The lastest novel from Felix Francis delivers a very-readable book with an ending to take your breath away. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: September 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1471173165

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The Honourable William Herbert Millgate Gordon-Russell (Bill Russell to those who knew him well) was acting as a volunteer steward at Warwick Racecourse when he was told of the violent death of his much-loved wife. It would get worse though: the successful insurance actuary would be accused of killing her and hounded by the media. Then he would lose his job and his home. His best friends would turn against him, as they came to believe him guilty of the murder. Yet there was no really compelling evidence that he was guilty.

Felix Francis gives us a realistic (and rather frightening) exploration of what it's like to find yourself on the wrong end of a police investigation. Russell found himself in the position of having to prove his innocence when the authorities had made up their minds that he was the most likely person to be guilty of the crime - and that he had a financial motive. Impressively, Francis demonstrates how the police came to their position and shows how their interviewing techniques are used to good effect. It was impossible not to feel that you were in the room with Bill Russell.

When the case does eventually come to court the atmosphere is true to life: Francis's research has obviously been extensive and thorough, but without giving the feeling that every bit of information has been mercilessly shoehorned in. Far less easy to research and portray are the reactions of family, friends and colleagues and how willing so many are to believe the worst and not the best. The media obviously play a big part in forming public opinion and I couldn't help but be put in mind of the Christopher Jeffries case from 2011 which was a particularly low point in press responsibility.

What was particularly well-drawn was the effect on Bill Russell himself. He had multiple serious problems: losing a much-loved wife, his business collapsing around him, defending himself and coping with the desertion of many friends. One could easily empathise with the loneliness of his situation.

I was totally unprepared for the ending: it will take your breath away. I couldn't help but think as I looked at A Dick Francis Novel on the cover of the book that Felix Francis has now eclipsed his father in writing skills. He's produced some superb novels over the last few years and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

We've quite a few reviews of other novels by Felix Francis. If you're after a compelling, enjoyable read then these could be good choices.

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