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A Kitchen Confidential of Britain's criminal justice system, packed with gripping, real-life courtroom drama and savage wit.
As a criminal barrister, you work with the material you get: a junkie shoplifter with thirty-five previous convictions and four packs of Lidl's frozen chicken stuffed down his trousers is heading only one way.
Every day, like every criminal barrister in this country, Alex McBride stands up in court and, with nothing but quick-thinking, sharp-talking and his hard-won legal expertise, attempts to save people from criminal conviction, prison, even a lifetime behind bars. Sometimes he's had only a few hours to prepare his case. Sometimes his client is obviously guilty.
In this hilarious, heart-stopping memoir, he takes us behind the scenes of Britain's criminal justice system - in barristers' chambers, in the courtroom, in the cells and on the streets - introducing us to its outlandish personalities, arcane eccentricities and its many moving stories of triumph and defeat.
Whether he's defending hapless teenagers at Harlow Youth Court or prosecuting gold bullion robbers at the Bailey, his hair-raising tales reveal all the secrets of courtroom success and what it takes to survive in this chaotic world of fluked escapes and crushed hopes.
Throughout he attempts to answer that most important question: how do we ensure that the guilty are convicted and the innocent walk free?
Alex McBride is a criminal barrister. He is the author of the 'Common Law' column in Prospect magazine and has contributed to the New Statesman and various BBC programmes, including From Our Own Correspondent.