Alan Barrington is an experienced high-street solicitor. He starts off defending a routine robbery which sends him on a crash course to hell. The novel is set in Wales in 2001/02 but could equally have been present-day as it talks about the financial constraints on the legal aid system. The introduction is slightly slow but the plot picks up pace. The main character is well-rounded, believable and the dialogue bluntly realistic.

To justify his chargeable hours, Barrington says: ‘Like any business, we sell a product and that product is our time.’

It is narrated in the first person which helps the reader identify with the main character, while diary entries mean the plot can be easily followed. For a short novel it gives a deep insight into the world of a solicitor who is incredibly dedicated to his work. The author has an unpretentious, humorous style which draws the reader into his world. He also has the ability to openly criticise himself (‘my question had probably been the stupidest ever asked in the entire history of mankind’).  

Author: Alan Barrington

£12.95, AuthorHouseUK

It is difficult not to feel sympathy for the main character: his marriage is in difficulty; his office account is always overdrawn; and he seems to have more than his fair share of problems. His life is a merry-go-round of disasters, yet he has a profound belief in justice and remains positive even when faced with death.

Crash Course has weaknesses. Some chapters are too short and there are grammatical errors. The ending is abrupt, but the plot is well structured and gripping (you can easily devour the book in two sittings).

This is a promising first novel where the main character rises above the stereotype to deliver a truly engaging message.

Goldie Millan is a sole practitioner in Bradford