The Aladdin Trial
£8.99, Lightning Books
This book is lawyer Abi Silver’s follow-up to her courtroom thriller The Pinocchio Brief and features the same legal team of Judith Burton and Constance Lamb.
The body of a patient is found in the undergrowth at the back of a London hospital. The police quickly charge one of the hospital cleaners with Barbara Hennessy’s murder, based on a number of pieces of circumstantial evidence. Burton and Lamb act as Ahmad Qabbani’s defence counsel and throughout the book unearth facts about Qabbani and Hennessy (and their respective families). These developments lead to a startling revelation which demonstrates that culpability can be wide-ranging and a complicated concept.
Not having read The Pinocchio Brief, my understanding of the nuances of Burton and Lamb’s relationship was limited, but this did not detract from the fact that this is a reasonable standalone novel. As was stated in a review on The Pinocchio Brief, there were aspects of the novel that might cause upset among those more familiar with criminal law processes. And in Silver’s latest work, while some of the queries I was left with doubtlessly arose from my own limited knowledge of various technicalities (including hospital protocols and the mechanics of cars), I was confused by some aspects of the characters.
The author is most engaging when dealing with wider topics, such as the plight of refugees, resourcing issues within the NHS and the development of surgical techniques. The practicalities and ethical considerations arising from these issues made the story feel relevant and more substantial than a simple whodunit. They also added depth to the characters.
Ultimately, it felt like it was not just Hennessy who was a victim in this story – and the resolution of her death therefore did not prove an entirely satisfactory conclusion. Having said that, this is a thought-provoking book.
Jessica Brain is a solicitor at Watson Burton, Leeds