Sing a Worried Song (Arthur Beauchamp #6), by William Deverell

Eight stars

William Deverell offers up another wonderful legal thriller, taking his protagonist back into the earlier days of his eventful legal career once again. By 1987, Arthur Beauchamp has made quite the name for himself as a criminal defence attorney. However, as with any challenging job, there are always new hurdles and adventures to overcome. When asked to act as prosecutor on the retrial of a murder, he obliges. Hoping for a three-day trial where he will again present the air-tight evidence, Beauchamp works against his long-time friend, Brian Pomeroy. The accused, Randolph ‘Randy’ Skyler, is said to have stabbed a down and out clown seven times while visiting Expo ‘86 in Vancouver. The legal approach taken to this apparently motiveless crime suggests that he was fuelled by the desire to commit and thrill kill. That the clown was a well-known homosexual may also have played a part, something that Beauchamp wants to jury to ponder during deliberations. Beauchamp learns of a murder mystery novel the accused and his friend are said to have obsessed over, which outlines the rush felt by the murderer in committing a random kill. Wanting to reach deep into Skyler’s psyche, Beauchamp receives a copy and synthesises it for himself. Using some of the key aspects of the narrative, Beauchamp storms into court and makes numerous accusations, paralleling the story and insinuating that the thrill kill had some similarities to the novel. While some less than legal tactics were used to get to that point, Beauchamp convinces the jury in record time and Skyler is sent away for murder, but not before uttering that he will exact his revenge at some point. Durning this time, Beauchamp is also wrestling with the ongoing infidelity of his wife, Annabelle, and learns that her choice of men is varied and might even cross into his own friend pool. Jumping forward to 2012, news crosses the wire that Skyler has been released on parole and has been making some utterances that he has some business that needs handling. Brian Pomeroy, repeatedly down on his luck (as series fans will know from past novels) surfaces to offer his friend, Beauchamp, some guidance and advice. Is Skyler on his way to Garibaldi Island to kill the man that put him behind bars? The possibility exists, as Beauchamp seeks to remain firmly rooted on the Island and keep to himself. Flashes from the past emerge, fuelled not only by his own memory, but a specific chapter of his biography, A Thirst for Justice. While Skyler has been seen working in Northern Ontario, there remains a strong paranoia that something could go awry at any moment. Should Arthur Beauchamp worry about this or anything else as he seeks to help those in the community, knowing that a murderer is potentially on the loose? And what about his own worries that his current wife is being unfaithful? All this and more await the reader in this wonderfully crafted sixth novel. A must-read for series fans and those who enjoy tongue-in-cheek legal thrillers.

William Deverell has mastered this series through a collection of well-plotted novels that develop the Arthur Beauchamp character in a slow and methodical manner. Working not only to advance the current Beauchamp, these flashback novels seek to allow the reader to fill the voids left by character trait breadcrumbs on offer in the first few novels. This story pulls on a well-established Beauchamp of the 1980s, whose career is rising with a strong reputation in the community. Going all-in with this rare prosecution, Beauchamp shows that he has a passion for the law, even when the case is not flamboyant. However, Deverell is clear to also add some angst to the mix as it relates to Beauchamp’s personal life, if only to keep that story from suffering bouts of tunnel vision. Series fans will know that Beauchamp struggled with alcohol abuse for many years, but it is in this novel that the kernel of his sobriety comes to the surface. Balancing things out with a wonderful modern narrative on Garibaldi Island, Deverell keeps his cast of characters exciting and playing their role in the larger story. The novels are rich with detail and humour, which helps propel the reader through them with ease. No one can say that Deverell lacks the ability to tell a story or that is pieces fall flat. Nuggets of literary genius pepper every page, as long as the reader is patient enough to coax them out. Brilliantly told and wonderfully written, this instalment of the series is yet another gem!

Kudos, Mr. Deverell for tantalising me repeatedly with all your wonderful stories, pulled on actual experiences from your legal career.