Walden of Bermondsey by Peter Murphy | The first case #bookreview #WaldenofBermondsey @noexitpress

Published by No Exit Press

23 November 2017

available in ebook and paperback

416 pages


|   About the Book  |


When Charlie Walden took on the job of Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, he was hoping for a quiet life. But he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace between three feisty fellow judges who have very different views about how to do their job, and about how Charlie should do his.

And as if that’s not enough, there’s the endless battle against the ‘Grey Smoothies’, the humourless grey-suited civil servants who seem determined to drown Charlie in paperwork and strip the court of its last vestiges of civilisation.

No hope of a quiet life then for Charlie, and there are times when his real job – trying the challenging criminal cases that come before him – actually seems like light relief.

‘No one writes with more wit, warmth and insight about the law and its practitioners than Peter Murphy. He has no equal since the great John ‘Rumpole’ Mortimer’ – David Ambrose

‘Though his exasperation is sometimes palpable, what triumphs over everything is his sense of humour. And it is the humour that makes Walden of Bermondsey such a delightful read. Think of him as what Rumpole would be like if he ever became a judge, and you get some idea of his self-deprecating wit and indomitable stoicism. Add a dash of Henry Cecil for his situation and AP Herbert for the fun he has with the law, and you get a sense of his literary precedents’ – Paul Magrath


 * * * *

Having worked for lawyers for over 30 years and in a previous job having to go to court on occasions, I’m always interested to read about the daily shenanigans of court life.  I was a fan of the Henry Cecil books, a series written from the POV of a barrister – rather dated now but it appears there there is a new kid on the block! Peter Murphy’s witty and no-nonsense take on the life of a Resident Judge at Court will fill the gap nicely.

I must make it clear that I was only sent the first case of this book to review Where there’s Smoke (I believe there are 6 cases in total) so this is not a review of the entire book. However this was enough to give a flavour and I enjoyed it very much.

From his early description and battles with the ‘Grey Smoothies’ – the civil servants overseeing the workings of courts, who think that court staff have nothing better to do than to compile endless statistics to the daily frustrations of court life – when cases are listed but nothing happens because the prison van breaks down or the prison officers haven’t read the court list and the defendant is a no show or the witness hasn’t been notified that he is required to attend … the reasons are various but no less frustrating.  His observations on court life include putting your life on the line by opting for the dish of the day in the dining room and the sometimes heated discussions between his fellow judges on whichever cases may be before them.

The first case here involves a young man accused of arson however all is not as straight cut as it would appear and when Charlie’s wife, the Reverend Walden gets involved, the waters are further muddied.

Walden of Bermondsey is both informative and humorous with an interesting narrative.  This first chapter took just under an hour to read but I was happily entertained and would like to read more about the trials and tribulations of Charlie Walden; I’m not at all surprised that the collection of stories has been optioned for television and film.


My thanks to the publisher for the extract to review.


|   About the author   |


Peter Murphy spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the U.S., and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. He is the author of the Ben Schroeder thrillers.


Author Links:    Website   |    Amazon UK   


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