Hello Readers! I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for The Cinderella Plan by Abi Silver, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources. Please check out the book details and excerpt in this post.
The Cinderella Plan by Abi Silver
Publication Date: 11th July 2019
Genre: Courtroom legal thriller
When James Salisbury, the owner of a British car manufacturer, ploughs his ‘self-drive’ car into a young family, the consequences are deadly. Will the car’s ‘black box’ reveal what really happened or will the industry, poised to launch these products to an eager public, close ranks to cover things up?
James himself faces a personal dilemma. If it is proved that he was driving the car he may go to prison. But if he is found innocent, and the autonomous car is to blame, the business he has spent most of his life building, and his dream of safer transport for all, may collapse.
Lawyers Judith Burton and Constance Lamb team up once again, this time to defend a man who may not want to go free, in a case that asks difficult questions about the speed at which technology is taking over our lives.
This excerpt is from the early part of James Salisbury’s trial; James’ self-drive car killed two children, but James is also the owner of SEDA, the company which manufactures these self-drive cars. Here, Judith Burton, acid-tongued barrister, defending James, reflects on her treatment of Celia Mansome, the prosecuting barrister, when they were at school.
Celia was wearing a darker shade of lipstick for the afternoon session. Judith sometimes matched her own lipstick to her mood but was fastidious about maintaining a uniform appearance for every day of a trial. She would not want to give away anything about her own emotions, when a man’s liberty was at stake.
‘Do you remember that time you and Fiona Black threw my school bag in the swimming pool and all my notes were ruined?’ Celia had leaned towards her and cut into her thoughts.
Judith’s face flushed crimson. Now Celia mentioned it, she did have a dim recollection of an altercation at the side of their old school pool, when they were all filing out and back to lessons, but she knew for certain that she had not been involved.
‘My art folder was in there; I was taking art O’ level. All my work was spoiled.’
‘I hardly think this is the time for reminiscences,’ Judith replied. ‘Shouldn’t you be focusing on the case?’
‘I’m totally focused,’ Celia replied, her lips drawn tight together at the end of her sentence. ‘And I have a clear conscience.’
As the court rose to greet Judge Wilson, Judith reflected again on Celia’s comments and, as she thought harder, the memory came flooding back. Celia’s words bothered her immensely, not only because she knew there was at least a grain of truth in Celia’s words, but also because she could not be certain that she had been wholly innocent of any involvement. It was less that she had planned the attack or even encouraged it, more that she had taken no steps to intervene, when others had indicated they wanted revenge on Celia for past grievances. She could have stepped in, insisted they all take the moral high ground, “let bygones be bygones”, but she hadn’t. And afterwards, when she had heard Celia’s wail and had seen her desperately fishing her belongings out of the chemically-impregnated water, she had walked on without breaking stride….
Judge Wilson scrutinised the two women. He remembered the old days when he had stood in their shoes. He had disliked interventionist judges, just as much as they undoubtedly did. But the new guidance dictated a more managerial approach and, in any event, he was not one of those judges who had chosen the bench for an easy ride.
‘Ms Mansome. If Ms Burton is able to establish that her client was not in control of the vehicle at the moment of the collision, then do you accept that the dangerous driving charge fails?’
Celia rose to her feet with her usual poise, but Judith knew this was not an easy question to field at this stage. Did I help throw her school bag in the swimming pool? she considered, once more, as the profile of the mature woman in full flow, morphed into that of the thirteen-year old version; a girl who had always changed her clothes in the far corner for PE and who had covered herself with her towel at every opportunity.
‘Your honour, can I respectfully request that we await Mr Abrams on this point too?’
‘I don’t see why we need to do that? I don’t need details, just the framework. If the car was in control at the moment of collision, then surely Mr Salisbury is not guilty. That’s right isn’t it?’
‘Not personally, no. Of course, decisions taken in his capacity as CEO of SEDA may well then be open to scrutiny.’
‘But that would not be a matter for my courtroom today, unless you are proposing, at this very late stage, to radically enlarge the scope and put Mr Salisbury’s company on trial too. Not only would that be highly irregular, it would suggest to me that you had little confidence in your primary case.’
Celia opened her mouth and closed it again. Judith detected a slight shift in her body weight towards her left shoulder, over which her solicitor sat.
‘No, your honour. I accept that the trial is concerned with what Mr Salisbury did that afternoon, in his personal capacity,’ Celia said.
‘Good. I’m pleased we’ve cleared that one up. So, as I said, if the car is shown to have been in control at the moment of collision, then you accept that Mr Salisbury cannot be guilty.’
‘Yes, were that to be proven, but that is not the evidence we shall present.’
‘All right. So that’s clear too then.’
There, he had asserted himself sufficiently for now and received at least one straight answer from each lawyer.
Judith noticed Celia’s hands fluttering as she organised her papers for the next witness. Perhaps she was not as brave as she seemed, or her own reminiscences about days gone by, flung at Judith, had unsettled her too.
Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURCIND
Yorkshire-bred, Abi Silver is a lawyer by profession. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and three sons. Her first courtroom thriller featuring the legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb, The Pinocchio Brief, was published by Lightning Books in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. Her follow-up The Aladdin Trial, featuring the same legal team, was published in 2018.
Read more about Abi and her work at www.abisilver.co.uk .
Social Media Links –
Facebook: Abi Silver, Author
Giveaway to Win 5 x PB of The Cinderella Plan (UK Only)
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