My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The anonymous ‘Secret Barrister’ is back with another hard-hitting and surprisingly emotional roller-coaster ride of a book about exactly what’s going wrong in law.
In the first book, the author looked at the legal system and demonstrated all but unequivocally that government under-funding and distinctly iffy traditions (don’t ever go to Magistrate’s Court if you can help it) have led to a system on its knees. In this latest book, SB turns a sharp eye to the media and how MPs utterly trash the reputation of the courts and legal practitioners with huge detrimental impact on everyone – and often creating situations of considerable danger.
While it doesn’t matter in terms of judging quality, I continue to believe SB is a woman simply because, again. the author writes so compassionately and sympathetically it is hard to imagine a man so skilled. I’ll be impressed if, one day, it turns out the unmasked SB is indeed a male of the species. I raise my prediction only because this is no dry tome about law. It is beautifully written, wonderfully easy to get through and written so vividly that you often feel like you’re in those courtrooms or actually chatting with the author over a cup of tea in their kitchen. This book has been lovingly crafted and is clearly no intended money-spinner; it is a labour of love, written with conviction.
But what a perverse love it is. The stories within make me weep. The way the British public are led by the nose by the Press and scurrilous MPs trying to make names for themselves (or look like they’re doing something useful to hide the fact they’re utterly pointless) just brings one to despair. I get depressed thinking about it. God knows how SB (a working barrister) manages to cope. Perhaps this book is cathartic for the author.
I’m no fan of the rabble that currently occupy No. 10, and I’m well aware of many of the crass, cruel and downright stupid things Patel and others have said over the years regarding law and order. Still, even I was shocked to see just how often those ministers who promise to ‘crack down on crime’ either do nothing or actually make things worse. I’m now certain that ministers should have to be suitably qualified to be given certain jobs – such as being responsible for the Ministry of Justice (although SB also shows that being qualified in law doesn’t always make certain ministers competent).
So where do we go from here? Another of SB’s remarkable talents is the ability to give us those ‘Empire Strikes Back’ vibes. Yes, the enemy might be winning, the chips are down, the walls breached and all other metaphors and analogies you might come up with; but the rebels are still fighting in, still scoring victories, still causing the bad guys to clench their black-gloved fists and growl about crushing ‘lefty human rights lawyers’ with not a little hint (if you forgive the switch of analogy) of complaining about how they would have got away with it ‘if it wasn’t for those meddling kids’.
I soup it up deliberately. SB, both in the books and on their Twitter account, is wonderfully funny, irreverent, playful – and downright nice. Even when attacking the idiots at Whitehall or Fleet Street, SB is gentle, speaking gracefully but never with diminished force. If you don’t follow the Twitter account, I suggest you do. If you enjoy those daily moments of cutting through the crap while also entertaining delightfully, then ‘Fake Law’ is absolutely a book for you.
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at email@example.com. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review. His reviews have been read more than 2 million times so far.