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Briscoe, Constance - 'The Accused'
Paperback: 496 pages (August 2011) Publisher: Ebury Press ISBN: 0091940923

Icey and Sam have a shared history as first shoplifters with criminal records and finally as high class prostitutes. They have decided to start afresh and with the help of their former probationary officer and solicitor they have set up a detective agency.

Before the official launch, Icey is found holding a bloody knife in a church next to the mutilated body of a young girl. The trouble is Icey has no memory of how she got there or what happened. The court finds her guilty of murder and sentences her to 30 years without parole. Only Sam believes in her innocence and sets out to prove it the first case of the new detective agency. As more young women are murdered, Sam has no doubt that Icey's appeal will be upheld. Unfortunately the police and courts refuse to see the similarities between the murders and Icey stays in prison. The only thing Sam can do, with the help of her friends, is to identify the real killer and find the evidence that will make the police and the courts believe Icey is innocent.

This is the first novel by Constance Briscoe who has had great success with her autobiographies UGLY and BEYOND UGLY. Her history of abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother's family and casual neglect by her father is a harrowing tale, made all the more incredible by her subsequent success. She is now a trained barrister and a part-time judge so is able to write about the legal issues in the novel with authority. She has used her experiences and professional expertise to write a compelling, very readable first novel; Sam and Icey are well and sympathetically drawn and their history is shown in enough detail to explain but not excuse their life's choices.

Briscoe is writing a sequel to THE ACCUSED and it has been added to my list of "must reads" for the future. I want to know more about Icey and Sam.

Susan White, England
October 2011

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 30/10/2011 09:24