ARC Review: Until Proven Innocent by Nicola Williams

Hi Everyone,

Happy hump day. I only posted yesterday so when I tell you I have nothing to report back in the way of life updates, I literally have nothing to report. So I won’t ramble on unnecessarily and will get straight into this review.

Book πŸ“–

Thank you to @penguinukbooks for this advanced copy of Until Proven Innocent by @nicolawilliamswriter in return for an honest review. Until Proven Innocent was published on 16th March 2023 and you can get a copy here.

Description πŸ”–

Lee Mitchell is a young barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

On her doorstep in South London the 15-year-old son of the pastor at the local Black church is shot, and the local community is shattered. All evidence is pointing to infamously corrupt, racist police officer Sergeant Jack Lambert as the irredeemable suspect. His own boss – rebel-turned-copper Danny Wallace – is certain he is guilty.

Against her will, Lee is strong-armed into defending him. With cries of ‘Black Lives Matter!’ echoing in the streets, Lee is at the centre of the turmoil as lies, anger, and mistrust spiral out of control.

With the line between her personal and professional life becoming increasingly blurred, Lee keeps asking herself the same question: How can she defend the indefensible?

General Thoughts πŸ€”

I won’t beat about the bush, I loved this book so so so much. There are some thrillers that I read, enjoy and then move on with my life. Then there are others that I read, enjoy and think about for days afterwards. Until Proven Innocent was one of the latter books. Not only was the story engaging and full of drama, but the characters felt extremely authentic and the subject matter was hard hitting but important. I wasn’t expecting all of this from this book so it was very much a pleasant surprise.

Characters πŸ‘«πŸ‘­πŸ‘¬

I immediately related to Lee. Her journey from a working class black girl to a black woman who has made good in her career and life resonated with me massively. I completely understood her struggle of feeling like she no longer belonged in her community but also had no place among the middle classes she had moved into. It can be the hardest thing ever to feel like you have no “people”.

Thankfully, Lee was a very strong willed and confident woman and she was not going to let anyone talk her out of her own decisions. I could not fault her for this and admired her commitment to her job and position a lot. Personally, I don’t think she put her ethical views aside and they remained intact.

Writing Style ✍️

I loved this author’s tone and writing style and structuring. Basically everything. Nicola Williams created an environment and a community that I felt like I was absorbed into; I felt their anger and their pain. None of this book felt dramatised or exaggerated and I think that was probably as a result of Nicola Williams’ career as a lawyer and I would imagine some of her own lived experience.

I would absolutely love to see this adapted for the screen. I think it would make a fantastic drama series of film. If someone hasn’t snapped up the rights already, I’m sure it’s coming soon.

Conclusion & Scoring πŸŽ–

This is my first (and very well deserved) five star rating of the month and I really needed it. I’m so happy that this book landed in my hands and I loved every single part of it. This really was British Crime Fiction at its finest and I felt the raw emotion experienced by the characters so deeply. This was a no frills, authentic and gripping legal thriller that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry and I cannot recommend it enough.


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