The Rapunzel Act by Abi Silver #BookReview #BlogTour

When Breakfast TV host and nation's darling, Rosie Harper, is found brutally murdered at home, suspicion falls on her spouse, formerly international football star, Danny 'walks on water' Mallard, now living out of the public eye as trans woman, Debbie. Not only must Debbie challenge the hard evidence against her, including her blood-drenched glove at the scene of the crime, she must also contend with the nation's prejudices, as the trial is broadcast live, turning it into a public spectacle.

 For someone trying to live their life without judgment, it might just be too much to bear. Legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb are subjected to unyielding scrutiny as they strive to defend their most famous client yet.

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for The Rapunzel Act today. Many thanks to Abi Silver, Lightning Books and Amber from Midas PR for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The Rapunzel Act is the fourth book in  Abi Silver's  Burton and Lamb legal thriller series but the first I've read. I'm sure that returning readers will have a deeper understanding of the dynamic between the two main characters but I felt I soon had a decent grasp of the relationship between Judith Burton, the seasoned barrister and her younger colleague, Constance Lamb who is a solicitor.
Abi Silver's own experience working in Law shows; The Rapunzel Act feels assuredly authentic which I thought made the discussions about broadcasting a trial live even more interesting. We've all seen the salacious headlines and heard the polemic discussions when a prominent case hits the courts and the media. Here, Judith and Lamb are defending a high profile client whose past has already been widely discussed and debated in the Press and on social media but even that pales in comparison to the situation she now finds herself in, when her trial becomes the first to be broadcast live - and subsequently discussed and analysed on the new and ratings-hungry Court TV show.
Debbie Mallard is a transgender woman who first hit the headlines as Danny Mallard, the superstar international footballer who played for Arsenal and England, winning all the top honours. He married the then rising media darling, Rosie Harper but transitioned to Debbie in 2017, and the pair divorced. It's the sort of story that has the gossip-mongers rubbing their hands in glee and as soon becomes apparent, a court case which involves so many aspects known to stir up strong emotions - domestic violence, gender identity, sport - becomes even more controversial when it is conducted live on television.
The first part of the novel follows events leading up to trial, including Debbie's response to learning of Rosie's murder, resulting in a chase which will call to mind OJ Simpson for many readers. Her reaction immediately suggests she must be guilty in the minds of much of the public, particularly when more evidence - including a bloodied glove found at the scene -  comes to light. 
Constance seems more concerned by the potential issues posed by the trial being broadcast live and dissected afterwards than Judith, who is initially determined to ignore it. Their roles complement one another well and it's clear that  although they work well together, they are comfortable enough to disagree with one another too. Judith is the strategist and although Constance occasionally questions her decisions, she works diligently behind the scenes, gathering evidence and investigating leads which may help prove Debbie's innocence. 
The trial itself is gripping, with testimonies from both sides shaping and re-shaping the opinions of those watching - and those reading - time and again. I was particularly impressed here by the way Abi Silver portrays the inevitable shock reporting of such a case without ever becoming sensationalist herself. The scenes in and out of the courtroom are tense and emotional; there are protests from various groups outside while inside, revelations and decisions are made in the full knowledge that the world is watching and commenting. It all feels convincingly accurate and provokes some thought-provoking questions about prejudice and bias, and about the very relevant concerns presented by the legal system becoming supposedly more transparent.
The Rapunzel Act is a riveting murder mystery and a fascinating social commentary which sensitively examines various topical issues and which never forgets the human emotions at the heart of such a case. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more in this series.

The Rapunzel Act is published by Lightning Books and can be purchased from the publisher's website. It is also available on Amazon, Waterstones, Hive, Bookshop.org or order from your favourite independent bookshop.

Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.


About the Author
Abi Silver is an author and lawyer who grew up in Leeds in a traditional Jewish family. Watching Granada TV’s ‘Crown Court’ in between lessons led her to study Law at Girton College, Cambridge. Abi then worked in London at international law firm, Allen & Overy and at RPC, before spending five years in Israel, where her husband, Daniel, was posted. During her time there, alongside raising her three young sons, Abi completed an MBA by distance learning, learned Hebrew and pottery on the wheel and began to write fiction, usually late at night. On returning to the UK, she went back to law before quitting a permanent position in 2015 when she decided to try her hand at writing again which led to publication of The Pinocchio Brief. Based in Radlett, Hertfordshire, Abi works part-time as a legal consultant and author.

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