When James Salisbury, the owner of a British car manufacturer, ploughs his ‘self-drive’ car into a young family, the consequences are deadly. Will the car’s ‘black box’ reveal what really happened or will the industry, poised to launch these products to an eager public, close ranks to cover things up?
James himself faces a personal dilemma. If it is proved that he was driving the car he may go to prison. But if he is found innocent, and the autonomous car is to blame, the business he has spent most of his life building, and his dream of safer transport for all, may collapse.
Lawyers Judith Burton and Constance Lamb team up once again, this time to defend a man who may not want to go free, in a case that asks difficult questions about the speed at which technology is taking over our lives.
The book begins with a tragic accident and spends the rest of its pages exploring why it might have happened. An opening section gives us an insight into the lives of the players before the game really begins, lending us time to get to know the characters. The relationship between Judith and Constance is particularly interesting. It is somewhere between a partnership and friendship, which is a unique viewpoint. I was also drawn to James, the idealistic visionary who finds himself the pawn in a legal battle. The characters are defined by their jobs, as some of us are, but with enough meat on the bones to make them compelling.
The writing is intelligent and clinical, but never dry. The book is split into four parts with each acting as a gear change, ramping up the tension. The courtroom scenes are dramatic without being melodramatic, which adds to their appeal. It comes as no surprise that the author has a background in law. The writing drips with authenticity.
I was taken with the subject matter of autonomous cars and their application in the real world. Not only does this book benefit from apt timing, but it also widens the topic using well-researched facts. It is the exploration of a number of hypothetical scenarios most of us won't have considered on top of our soap boxes. It is revelatory and I was educated as well as entertained.
If you've never read a legal thriller before, I suggest you start with The Cinderella Plan. It is a considered, thought-provoking and compelling story whose relevance may yet be revealed.
The Cinderella Plan by Abi Silver is available on Amazon. Should you like it, please leave a review on Amazon. The author will love you forever!