Blog Tour: Unconvicted

I wondered how to start this blog post actually because the first sentence that came to mind was I love me a good thriller and then I realised that every time I want to talk about a thriller I open by saying I love me a good thriller and even though it’s true and I absolutely do, it’s hardly original and so here we are. I love me a good thriller and I also love me a good courtroom drama and so Unconvicted, the new book by Olly Jarvis was obviously going to tick all of my boxes. It absolutely did.

It’s about a young barrister called Jack Kowalski (the second in a series actually but you don’t need to have read the first to be able to understand this. I can say this with absolute confidence because I haven’t read the first and I liked this a whole lot. I’m tempted to go back and read the first, just because there are – as with any series of books – things in the second that are obviously subtle nods to the first and I want to know all the backstory, but I digress.) Jack Kowalski is a  young defence barrister with a conscience. He defends a guy who is accused of raping his wife. The guy gets bail off the back of Jack’s application, which, you know, is a success for Jack, he’s done his job right, except that a VERY short while later the guy is arrested again, this time for covering his wife in petrol and setting her on fire. I know. Wow. Jack is understandably gutted because if he hadn’t defended him then the guy would have been in prison pending his trial and his wife would have still been alive and so when he gets handed another two cases, one of a footballer also accused of rape and one of a young boy accused of a burglary that went wrong and resulted in an old man ending up in hospital, it kind of messes with his head a bit.

And you know, I loved that.

I think it’s a really fascinating thing to explore and one that isn’t very often, at least not in the books I’ve read. I mean, we all know our legal system, how sometimes the good guys are sent down and how sometimes the bad guys go free, we all know that the point of the defence is to test the evidence, that everybody innocent or guilty has the right to a fair trial. It’s just really interesting to explore the deeper dynamics of that, to see how it impacts the guy running the defence when the bad guy goes free – does he have a sense of responsibility, is he in part culpable for any future crimes, or is he just doing his job because everybody is innocent til proven guilty, that’s how our legal system works. It’s quite possibly a morally grey area, because even though a good defence is absolutely necessary to protect innocent people and I guess to stop the wrong people having the power to make decisions that impact the rest of a persons life, you kind of can’t help wondering sometimes how somebody can fight so hard for a person accused of (and most likely guilty of) the most atrocious crimes and I LOVE how that is explored here. How it’s not up to Jack to know if his client did it, how he has to ignore instinct and emotion and focus purely on the fact, he’s neither judge nor jury and WOW but that must be hard sometimes.

Olly Jarvis has a criminal court background, he was a barrister and his knowledge shines here. The scenes in court, the description of life in chambers, even how Jack spends his time outside of work, it all rang true and even though it took me a while to get used to his writing style (he’s quite direct, lots of dialogue and less description, short and punchy and to the point, with less character development than I’d usually like. It’s not bad, just different o the stuff I generally read) I was lost in this book, could not put it down. The finer details are explained but never in a way that feels patronising, the multiple storylines never felt confusing or like they bled into one another, it was gripping and fast-paced and it made me think.

It's set in Manchester which is cool from my point of view because I could picture it  - Jarvis mentions a lot of specific places and I loved that I could picture them all; I kind of feel like I might run into Jack next time I’m getting a coffee at the Pret at Spinningfields and having that familiarity with where the action was unfolding helped it come a live for me, although granted that’s pretty specific to me – I know sometimes I read books set in London or whatever and get a little frustrated at the name dropping of streets and cafes or whatever that I cannot picture so other people might feel the same about this, but this time it was my neck of the woods and I liked knowing where one place was in relation to another.

There’s also a sow burn love story going on also between Jack and his instructing solicitor and ah, how I love a slow burn love story – I feel like this one might be one of the slowest though, with nothing actually happening til book seventeen million, LIKE MULDER AND SCULLY ALL OVER AGAIN I CANNOT.

This book is a good book, it’s worth a read, and you know what? WHAT FUN! You don’t even have to take my word for it because today as part of the blog tour I can share with you an EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT- you can meet Jack and his adorable Dad and get a little tease of that slow burn love story I was talking about, and then you’ll be hooked also and can go out and get hold of your own copy. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR. 


Chapter 2
Jack tutted when he saw that the light was still on in Mariusz’s workshop. He locked the door behind him and flipped the open sign to closed. ‘Tata, you promised not to work this late any more?’
‘I finishing now,’ Jack’s father replied, getting up from the sewing machine. ‘Give me hand.’
Jack walked past the suit rails and steadied Mariusz as he tried to straighten up.
Mariusz waved a finger at the finished jacket. Jack hung it up, switched off the light, helped his father up the back stairs to his flat, and lowered him into the armchair. ‘You’ve got to slow down, Tata, you know what the doctor said.’
Mariusz gave a disapproving grunt. ‘Zuppe in fridge, Pani Mila make.’
Jack put the soup on the hob. ‘Smells good,’ he called to Mariusz. ‘When are you going to take Mila dancing at the Polish Club?’
‘Stop talking rubbish.’
Jack laughed.
‘She very grateful you agree to give talk.’
‘I enjoyed it. They asked some tough questions, though.’
Jack took the soup through to the lounge. His father made to get up, but Jack gestured for him to sit and pulled a small, mahogany-effect coffee table over to his chair.
Mariusz sipped at the spoon cautiously and watched his son. ‘You look well, Janusz.’
Jack blew on his soup. ‘I am. I feel like everything’s falling into place, like I’m finally getting the hang of it. I may actually be able to do this job.’
Mariusz smiled. ‘I knew you could.’ A pause. ‘And what about Lara?’
‘I’m on a case with her at the moment, speeches tomorrow,’ he replied, knowing what his father really meant.
‘When you going to ask her on date?’
‘We work together; she’s my instructing solicitor. I don’t want to spoil things.’
Mariusz scoffed. ‘You have courage to fight case in court, but you too shy to ask her?’
‘Leave it out, Tata, it’s not that easy.’ There was no hiding from his father. ‘I will when the time’s right.’


You want more, right? You can have more: 

Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now working in Manchester. Drawing on his experiences, he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the courtroom. He wrote the highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement, and wrote and presented the BBC documentary Mum Knows Best. He is also the author of Death by Dangerous. Olly has two children and lives in Cheshire.

Twitter: @OllyJarviso