Forced Confessions (Benson & De Vere)

I wrote last August that perhaps the best alternative to thinking about a Cormoran Strike novel we do not have would be reading and discussing the Benson and De Vere courtroom drama and detection thrillers by John Fairfax, the nom de plume of William Brodrick. There are, as I wrote then, some fascinating parallels between the Strike and Benson books and Galbraith/Fairfax:

The points of correspondence?

  • Brodrick had written six novels with a character, Father Anselm, and in a genre-melange largely of his invention. These novels had won him an international audience and all the awards the industry bestows. He adopts a transparent pseudonym, ‘John Fairfax,’ to take up a new character, William Benson, in a different if related genre.
  • Each of the Benson novels are satisfying stand-alone court room dramas told against the back-drop of the lead character’s mysterious personal history, to which story the attentive reader is given clues in each book.
  • While Benson is the star of the show and his mystery is the over-arching mystery, he has an assistant, Tess de Vere, who is a more than capable barrister herself, has her own personal enigmas the reader has to work out, and their relationship is strictly professional with hints that it will become ‘more than that.’
  • Benson is damaged goods, though. He is a lawyer licensed to plea in the Old Bailey, yes, but he is also a convicted murderer who pleaded guilty, did hard time, and is still very much in recovery from that experience. De Vere and Benson, according to the author, are on parallel and separate journeys of redemption that may intersect at times.
  • The man’s name is ‘Benson,’ right? Can you hear Shanker’s nickname for Strike there? ‘Bunsen’?

I’ll allow that the last point is a little weak.

The good news is that, unlike Rowling/Galbraith and Strike5, Brodrick/Fairfax has already announced the third Benson and De Vere novel title and publication date: Forced Confessions will be available on 5 March 2020.

Between thesis writing and Covid-19, alas, my best laid plans for prolonged discussion of the first two books before the publication of the third have all gang aglay. (Except for this one post.) I have ordered Forced Confessions, however, and look forward to reading it and to discussion here after I do.

Please join me in that and, if you haven’t already, read or re-read (or listen to) the brilliant first two Benson novels, Summary Justice and Blind Defence!

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