#BookReview - From The Shadows by Neil White


He hides in the shadows, watching, waiting, until the time is right . . .

Mary Kendricks, a smart, pretty, twenty-four-year-old teacher, has been brutally murdered and Robert Carter is accused of killing her. When defence lawyer, Dan Grant inherits Carter's case only weeks before the trial starts, everyone expects him just to babysit it, but Dan's not that kind of lawyer. He'll follow the evidence - wherever it takes him.

But as Dan and his investigator Jayne Brett look into the case, they discover that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to do their jobs they need to push the limits of the system, even if it means putting themselves in danger. Together they will get to the truth - whatever the cost . .

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for my copy received from Netgalley in return for this impartial review.
I've been meaning to read one of Neil White's books for ages, mostly thanks to the fabulous reviews on Liz Loves Books. Now I have some catching up to do because this I really enjoyed this book. From The Shadows mixes a gripping crime thriller with a compelling courtroom drama. The author was a criminal prosecutor and this insider knowledge gives a real authenticity to the courtroom and police station scenes. The story isn't told in a linear fashion but through flashbacks, as an intriguing moment in court then switches back to the recent past. Neil White hasn't taken the perhaps more obvious route of gradually showing us the events leading to the murder however, instead we see defence lawyer Dan Grant's investigation leading up to the court case, and what an investigation it is! Originally the case belonged to a rival law firm but just two weeks before the trial starts it is passed to Dan due to "a conflict of interest" and what should have been a simple job, with the work already done turns into something far more dangerous.
Dan engages the help of investigator Jayne Brett - a woman he defended in a previous case when she was on trial for the murder of her boyfriend. Questioning why the previous lawyer was prepared to give up a high profile case leads Dan to suspect something is very wrong. Is Robert Carter really guilty? If not, why is his excuse so suspect? And who is trying to stop Dan and Jayne investigating? I have to admit to finding the start a little slow and it took me a while to fall into this book as at first I wasn't sure about the switching narrative and initially felt it interrupted the flow of the novel a little. However, as the story progressed I really appreciated what Neil White has done here. This is a book of layers; first the anticipation of the court case - what will come to light during the proceedings, and will Carter be found guilty? Then there's the investigation, why does it seem that nobody is telling the whole truth, what is being concealed and why? And finally, the actual murder itself - what really happened to Mary Kendricks? There's a delicious creeping sense of unease to From The Shadows, this is nail biting, check under the bed before going to sleep stuff that builds to a tense ending as the layers finally come together with inventive plotting and some satisfying twists and turns.
This is the first in a new series of books that will feature Dan Grant and Jayne Brett and is an excellent introduction to the characters. I loved Dan's relationship with his father, perhaps not as different from each other as they might think. There's a real will-they-won't-they frisson between Dan and Jayne, their history stopping both of them taking that next step but the attraction between them is palpable at times, this is a pairing that I really looking forward to reading more from in the future. I have a terrible record for reading series out of sequence so am delighted to have read this one from the start and can't wait to discover what comes next.

From The Shadows is published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre and is available now. Neil White is on Twitter as @neilwhite1965 and his website is here.

About the Author

Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.