The one thing all non-criminal solicitors (that is to say solicitors not practicing criminal law) have in common, is the vague sense of envy, that your given practice area just does not seem to produce the kind of sexy, violent, racy stories that you get from criminal work. Somehow the criminal lawyers always have some wonderful anecdote to dine out on and Steve Smith is no exception. Set in the early eighties, this is the story of how he and a friend set up together in practice, and his subsequent attendance on the criminal fraternity of Rotherham. Mixed in with his court appearances are cameos from his social life often set in the local pub, as well of course as the not infrequent appearance of the infamous escaping ballcock. Whilst the author certainly comes across as a larger than life character and his client experiences range from the tragic to the laughable somehow the whole does not quite equal the sum of its parts. At times the book leaves you feeling like the new person stuck listening to a group of friends reminisce about the “good old times”, sitting through the descriptive equivalent of someone else’s photos. At the time you imagine it would have been hilarious, but somehow something seems to get lost in the telling. The characters themselves seem almost less than substantial, as if parts of their tales have been left out to protect the innocent, or then again the guilty; which perhaps stems from the author’s desire for this to be the first in a lengthy series.
Boozers, Ballcocks & Bail is written by Stephen D Smith and published by Neville Douglas Publishing at £10.99 – ISBN 1-901853-67-5