Fixed Odds by William McIntyre #review and #extract @sandstonepress @best_defence

This is the 5th in William McIntyre’s series featuring defence lawyer Robbie Munro. However, it’s the first I’ve read and I’m kicking myself that I haven’t read any of the others (so far!) as I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It reads perfectly well as a standalone novel although obviously if you have read the others you will have a better insight into the characters’ lives.

I don’t read an awful lot of legal thrillers but found this one very entertaining.  It was laugh out loud funny at times. For example, when talking about a disagreement with his wife Munro observes “like in so many of our domestic arrangements, we had reached a compromise – we’d do things her way.”

The two cases Munro tackles in this book are very different. There is the famous, affluent and frankly a bit up himself snooker player Bowman who is accused of match fixing. Munro hopes that the fee from this case will help his cashflow problems but it might not quite work out that way. This cashflow problem also tempts him to get involved in something which is just teetering on the edge of legality. Will he give in to this temptation or will his principles prevail?

Then there is Shannon, a drug addict and partner of George “Ghengis” McCann a regular client of Munro’s who is recently and violently deceased. Shannon is charged with his murder and Munro engaged as her defence lawyer.  Somehow the author made me feel more kindly towards Shannon than I’d expected. I liked that, even though she was certainly guilty of many things, Munro was certain she wasn’t guilty of this crime and was determined to prove it.

Robbie Munro is a very likeable character and I enjoyed getting to know his family too. The author’s own experience as a defence lawyer really made the storyline feel authentic and it was interesting to read at the end about the real life incidents which inspired parts of this book.

Extract from the novel

I recognised Elliot Holliday’s face the moment he walked through the door, even if it was fifteen years older and looking a lot less worried. It was one of those faces that was hard to forget. A mass of dark hair, now greying at the temples, heavily-lidded eyes, a slight hook to his nose, thin lips and cleft chin. Even as a fully paid-up member of the heterosexual male club, I had to admit he was one handsome devil.

‘Remember me?’ he asked.

I did. Very clearly. How could I have forgotten him, or the when and why we’d first met?

The when was during my legal traineeship. After the years of hard toil at law school – drinking, lounging about and chasing girls can take its toll on the young male student – like every other would-be solicitor, I’d had to find myself a two-year traineeship. Mine was spent in the wood-panelled offices of Caldwell & Craig. The venerable old Glasgow law firm had decided that the one arrow missing from its quiver of services was a solicitor prepared to soil his hands in the grimy business of criminal law. And so started a career with Caldwell & Craig that lasted as long as it took the other partners to realise that if crime meant legal aid, and it usually did, then crime didn’t pay.

The why was slightly more difficult to explain. Generally speaking, Caldwell & Craig’s newest recruit had not been allowed anywhere near matters of civil law, but late one Friday afternoon, with most of the partners long gone and the support staff under starter’s orders, my immediate superior, Maggie Sinclair, was happy to make an excep­tion in exchange for a flying start on the weekend.

‘I think he’s some kind of a travelling salesman,’ she’d said, in the tone of one who suspects the man in the waiting room, drinking the complimentary coffee, might be a cholera carrier. ‘See what he wants and then get rid of him.’ To sweeten the deal, Maggie had offered me the use of her office, a large room filled with law books, period furniture and works of art. My own office was a lot smaller, and mostly filled by a broken photocopier the firm hadn’t worked out how to dispose of yet. Maggie’s chair was padded and comfortable. It swivelled and reclined. Like her desk, all teak and tooled green leather, it had come from Sotheby’s. My desk and chair had come from IKEA with assembly instructions someone hadn’t read properly. I’d jumped at the chance to pretend to be a real lawyer.

‘Tell me why you’re here, Mr Holliday.’ The young Robbie Munro reclined in his boss’s big black chair and stared out of a rain spattered window at the bustle of the Merchant City.

‘I’ve had a curse put on me. I want you to take it off,’ wasn’t the answer I’d been expecting. I took a moment to mull it over . . . Nope, I’d skipped a fair few law lectures in my time, but still, I was reasonably sure curse removal hadn’t been part of the University of Edinburgh’s law curriculum. I mulled some more, and then with pursed lips and a sage nod of the head, came back with a consid­ered, ‘Eh?’

My thanks to Ceris at Sandstone Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and sending me a review copy of the book. Fixed Odds is available now in paperback and ebook formats. You will find buying links for various retailers on the publisher’s website here: Fixed Odds

From the back of the book

George ‘Genghis’ McCann has stolen – and lost – a priceless masterpiece. Snooker champion Oscar ‘The Showman’ Bowman is charged with betting fraud. With a second baby on the way, and promises of great rewards if he wins Bowman’s case and recovers the painting, defence lawyer Robbie Munro has never been so tempted to fix the odds in his favour.

About the author

William McIntyre is a partner in Scotland’s oldest law firm Russel + Aitken, specialising in criminal defence. William has been instructed in many interesting and high-profile cases over the years and now turns fact into fiction with his string of legal thrillers, The Best Defence Series, featuring defence lawyer, Robbie Munro.

Based in Scotland and drawing on William’s thirty years as a criminal defence lawyer, there is a rich vein of dry-humour running through the series, which he describes as an antidote to crime fiction that features maverick cops chasing a serial killers, and in it he emphasises that justice is not only about convicting the guilty, but also about acquitting the innocent. 

William writes from the heart and from his own experiences. Robbie Munro, is very much a real life lawyer, juggling a host of cases, dealing with awkward clients and battling an at times Kafkaesque legal system, all while trying to retain some form of personal life. Notwithstanding their relatively light-hearted approach, the books deal with some very serious issues, each story raising an interesting philosophical or ethical issue. Though the plots are often complex, they are never confusing such is William’s deftness of touch. 

The books, which are stand alone or can be read in series, have been well received by many fellow professionals, on both sides of the Bar, due to their accuracy in law and procedure and Robbie’s frank, if sardonic, view on the idiosyncrasies of the Scots criminal justice system.

William is married with four sons.

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