Another change of direction for this week’s BotW pick. I read a lot last week, and a lot of it was good, but Judge Walden: Back in Session seemed like a fairly obvious pick – even if it is the second in a series, and not just because it is out on Thursday. And I know I keep saying it, but the summer reading reccs post is coming up, so more of last week’s books may yet get a mention!
Back in Session is the second book about Charlie Walden, resident judge (that means he’s in charge) at Berdmonsey Crown Court. His main aim in life is just to get on with his job – trying criminals – without attracting the attention of either the press or, even worse, the Civil Servants. He calls them the Grey Smoothies and is constantly on the watch for their latest targets or cost cutting idea. He also has to manage his three fellow judges – who all have different ideas about the law and how it should be applied and aren’t afraid of expressing them. Charlie’s wife – a vicar – is also a regular character who offers insight and support depending on what’s going on at court. The book is broken down into a series of cases, each covering one trial but which either have some relevance to wider life at the court or which have something happening in the background at the same time. Each case is about novella length and as you get to the end of the book all the threads that have been bubbling along build to a satisfying conclusion.
I bought the first book in this series after reading the first case in it (which is free on Kindle) and both the books really, really worked for me. The characters are interesting, the setting is fun and different and it’s all knitted together so well. The author is a former resident judge himself and so presumably knows exactly what he’s talking about. As a journalist in my “proper” job, I’ve done my share of court reporting over the years, and all the court scenes in this really worked for me – except with all the boring stuff taken out! Because it’s broken down into cases, I think it would make a great book to read on the train or on a plane – it’s easy to pick up and put down without losing the sense of what’s going on.
Back in Session does build on the framework from the first book – so I definitely suggest reading Walden of Berdmonsey first – but if you don’t, I don’t think it would be the end of the world. My copy of the new book came from NetGalley, but I bought book one on a Kindle deal, so it might be worth adding that to your watchlist as the price may drop when book two comes out. If you want to get hold of a copy for your very own, Back in Session is available to pre-order in Kindle, Kobo or in paperback from Amazon, your friendly local bookshop or Big Green Books. The first book is also in all the same places (Kindle/Kobo/Amazon paperback/Big Green Bookshop) or if you want a free taster, you can try Walden’s First Case, but I could only find that on Kindle. I’m hoping we haven’t heard the last of the Judges of Berdmonsey Crown Court.