Publisher: Red Door Press
Available in Ebook & Paperback (11 June 2020)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sophie Angel is the night lawyer.
Once a week, she’s the one who decides what the papers can and can’t say. During the day, she’s a barrister. She struggles for justice in a system that’s close to collapse, where she confronts the most dangerous aspects of humanity. Her life changes when a wealthy Russian offers her the biggest case of her career, a rape trial with a seemingly innocent client.
But is someone manipulating Sophie from the shadows? And is it someone from her childhood in Soviet Russia or is the danger much closer to home?
With her marriage under strain and haunted by nightmares from the past, Sophie must find the answer to these questions before it’s too late. This is a story about betrayal, trust, guilt and innocence, played out from the courtrooms of London to the darkest corners of Soviet era Moscow.
‘You’ll be all right here on your own?’
Chris, the night editor, looks at me, coat and briefcase in hand.
I nod and turn back to the screens on my desk.
He hesitates a moment longer, then walks away. I can see his stocky figure reflected in the window; a ghostly outline overlaying the city lights outside. He walks with a rolling gait, like a cowboy or a sailor, although as far as I know, he rarely leaves the office except to go home and sleep. I hear the faint electronic echo announcing the lift’s arrival, followed by the silence of an empty building.
This is my eyrie. I have a hawk’s view of London, outlined in circles, boxes and towers of lights. Random patterns of white, yellow, red and green mark out the roads, the traffic and the landmarks up to the darkness of the horizon. Pinprick aeroplane lights inch across a wide arch of black sky. You can’t see the stars but an occasional tiny satellite hovers brightly.
I work at the centre of the hub, ‘on the bench’, sitting next to the night editor so that he can consult me for an instant decision as the papers go to press. He always wants to know exactly how far he can push a story before it becomes libellous. Sometimes he even steps over that line.
The section desks stretch out like spokes from the editor’s desk – features, news, foreign affairs and, in the far distance, the magazine and lifestyle sections. I work here on Friday evenings, after my week in court, arriving at seven o’clock in the evening when most of the journalists are still working at their desks. But as it gets later, the lights go off at desk after desk as computers are closed down and journalists leave, until the room is lit only by the eerie glow of the giant news screens up on the walls and the city lights outside the huge windows.
Just before midnight, I sit in the only pool of light left in the vast office, scrolling down my screen, trying to make sense of what is happening to my life. I follow the online trails, carefully going through the second, third and fourth pages of Google, burrowing deeper down the rabbit holes of information than I have ever gone before.
Everything seems clearer up here. I can think. I feel more real. For a moment, I just sit and watch cars move along the roads like brightly lit ants. The London Eye has halted for the evening, outlined in a circle of red light. I go over and over the words I’d heard in the robing room that afternoon, picking them apart for explanations. I run Theo’s name through various search engines. He’s been in hundreds of cases and been interviewed many times by small legal publications and blogs, so there are thousands of hits on his name. Every now and then a different Theo Frazer pops up too; one that is too old or too young.
Sometimes I go down dead ends, or get distracted, straying down the tunnels of my subconscious, following words and phrases by instinct rather than by reason. I don’t find anything I hadn’t known before. I’m just beginning to think that it is all gossip, nothing more.
I send an email to Lydia Brennan to ask her what she had meant, rewording and deleting it dozens of times. Eventually, I just click ‘send’.
I jump as my mobile phone echoes shrilly in the silence. I look at it. Not Theo.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Thing Tours for the tour invitation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Churchill was a barrister, specialising in serious crime for over three decades, and a writer.