The inspiration behind the book was twofold. First and foremost, I wanted to write something that would entertain and provide escapism for readers. And perhaps even more importantly, having practiced law for over twenty years, I wanted to relive my own experiences of the Bar and give readers a real insight into the somewhat closed-off and mysterious world of Chambers – to highlight the murkier aspects of the British legal system, and to explore a question I have never been able to answer fully: ‘What is justice?’.
As the book opens, we become witness to the poisoning of hero policeman, Grant Cliveden, and his shocking death inside the Old Bailey. We then meet Adam Green, a trainee barrister who works on the defence case. All the evidence points to Jimmy Knight, who has been convicted of multiple offences before. But as Adam digs deeper, he realises the case is not as clear-cut as had first been assumed.
The book is, at its heart, a page-turning whodunnit aimed at keeping readers on their toes. And as the narrative unfolds, we are also exposed to the inner workings of the British justice system too. This is done through the eyes of Adam Green, a slightly socially awkward young man from a working-class background. Sitting outside of the usual barrister stereotype, Green must learn to fit in with the glamour of chambers and deal with colleagues whose priorities are not always focussed (to his surprise!) on upholding the highest standards of the law. His pupil master, Jonathan Taylor-Cameron, for example, is often more concerned with pursuing his multiple mistresses than acquitting his clients.
Adam is an echo of my younger self, insofar as he is from a non-traditional legal background and must work tirelessly to prove himself as a worthy member of this new world. He is also discernibly Jewish, and the book is punctuated with telephone calls to his mum who is constantly trying to invade his house and work out why he has not yet married a nice Jewish girl. Through these interactions, we learn about the small cases Adam takes on (including his representation of an 82-year-old sex worker named Gloria), as well as the high-profile trials that come to define his career.
The world I have created is inspired by what I experienced at the Bar – and is intended to be a mirror of what it was like when I first arrived on the law scene, though it has become slightly more serious and professional since I joined.
Revisiting old tales from my time as a junior barrister made writing The Trial a total delight and took me on a wonderful trip down memory lane. I hope I have been able to create an authentic account of what living, and working, within this world looks like.
The Trial was also inspired by one of my favourite writers, John Mortimer, whose brilliant Rumpole series has a special place in my heart. Not only do these books approach the legal system with a sense of warmth and wit, but they are the very thing that encouraged me to train as a lawyer all those years ago. When I began writing The Trial, I knew I wanted to embody Rumpole’s rich tapestry of humour but make it relevant and exciting to a contemporary audience. And, who knows, perhaps it will inspire a budding young student to embark on their own legal career too!
As someone who loves to read, I have been delighted with early reactions to The Trial. What I love the most is that readers feel as though they have been invited into an otherwise alien world that is slightly outside the reach of most people’s understanding. But beyond shining a light on the inner workings of the legal system, readers have responded to themes surrounding class, the “importance” of fitting in and, at the very core of it, the idea of what justice itself really means.
The Trial by Rob Rinder is published by Century on 22 June. £20 Hardback, £9.99 Ebook and £13 Audiobook.
One murder, one impossible case, who is guilty? When hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey, it threatens to shake the country to its core. The evidence points to one man. Jimmy Knight has been convicted of multiple offences before and defending him will be no easy task. Not least because this is trainee barrister Adam Green's first case. But it will quickly become clear that Jimmy Knight is not the only person in Cliveden's past with an axe to grind. The only thing that's certain is that this is a trial which will push Adam - and the justice system itself - to the limit . . .
Hear Rob in conversation about The Trial at one of his events: https://linktr.ee/thetrial
You can also find him on Twitter @RobbieRinder and on Instagram @robrinder