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Book Review: Sing a Worried Song by William Deverell

If you haven't read any of the Arthur Beauchamp novels by William Deverell, you should. Deverell, a former prominent Vancouver criminal defense counsel, brings his wealth of experience from the courtroom onto the pages of his novels in some of best mixtures of courtroom drama and exciting suspense and his latest novel, Sing a Worried Song is no exception.

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Deverell's protagonist, former criminal defense barrister Arthur Beauchamp, has long since retired from the practice of law, but through a literary reminiscence, readers are taken back to the one and only case in which Beachamp prosecuted, a retrial of a fratboy charged with a thrill killing of a Vancouver street performer, whose first trial ended in a hung jury. Many critics say that Deverell writes some of the best and most realistic courtroom scenes, and it is hard to dispute that in this story. The trial has many roller-coaster like twists and turns, culminating in surprising conclusion. The second part of the book fast forwards to the present day, when Beauchamp is enjoying his retirement on a fictional Gulf Island filled with many quirky and colorful characters. Calamitous circumstances draw him back into the courtroom of the impatient Provincial Court Judge "Haywire" Hayward to defend a well-like local islander facing a serious drug charge. As this is occurring, more frightening things are happening that place Beauchamp's life at risk. Suddenly the 1987 trial has a strong relevance to Beauchamp's idyllic current life, building to a strong finale that combines the comedy of life on little "Garibaldi Island" with all the thrills and suspense of the best quality of mystery writing.

Deverell is very strong as an author when it comes to character description and development and his writing has a very huge Elmore Leonard-like quality to it. The supporting cast in this novel includes another former defense lawyer now more interested in the sale of magic mushrooms, the island's local women's softball team who call themselves "Nine Easy Pieces", a dope growing con man of a mechanic and his unwitting sidekick, and the two-man local RCMP detachment who have their own unique brand of dysfunction.

In the afterward to the book, Deverell explains how the plot of this story mirrors one of his real-life experiences and that is an interesting part of the book in itself. Overall this is a brilliant work of fiction that will have the reader both amused and entertained. It is hard to put down and will make for pleasurable reading for any mystery fan, especially those who enjoy some courtroom drama injected into the mix.
Tags: author: d, genre: fiction, genre: mystery, genre: thriller, review
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