Summary and book reviews of Final Witness by Simon Tolkien

Final Witness

by Simon Tolkien

Final Witness by Simon Tolkien X
Final Witness by Simon Tolkien
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2002, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2004, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien makes a thrilling debut as a novelist in this suspenseful courtroom drama that will have you guessing to the very end.

One summer night, two men break into an isolated manor house and kill Lady Anne Robinson. Her son, Thomas, convinces the police that his father’s beautiful personal assistant sent the killers, but Thomas is known for his overactive imagination, and he has reasons to lie.

Thomas’s father, Sir Peter Robinson, the British minister of defense, refuses to believe his son. Instead, he marries his assistant, Greta Grahame, and will be giving evidence for the defense at her trial. He will be the final witness.

Author Simon Tolkien successfully combines legal suspense and psychological tension in this sharply etched portrait of four people whose lives are changed by a murder. Alternating between the trial in London’s Central Criminal Court and private moments among the characters, Tolkien expertly describes the art of the trial, the clash between Britain’s social classes, and, most notably, the complexity of family relations.

Who is telling the truth—the new wife or the bereaved son? What will Sir Peter tell the court? With tantalizing ambiguity, Tolkien keeps readers guessing about the true motivations of these characters until the final witness.


UK Title : The Stepmother.


Author's Note



Many people may think that being related to a famous writer would make it easier to become a writer yourself, but I have found the opposite to be true. I always unconsciously felt that I would be measured against my grandfather’s huge achievement, and this kept me away from fiction for a very long time.

I have always loved The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and my grandfather’s mastery of the art of storytelling remains an inspiration to me, but my novel is set in the world of criminal law—obviously an entirely different realm from my grandfather’s work. A courtroom is an extraordinary place. Witnesses often tell their own stories in the most dramatic fashion. My experiences as a criminal barrister in London have provided me with many ideas for stories, a wide experience of human nature, and an insider’s knowledge of the courts, which means I can make my fiction true to life.

Chapter 1

My name is Thomas Robinson. I am sixteen years old. Today is Thursday, the sixth of July, and I am making this statement to Detective Sergeant Hearns of the Ipswich Police. I have made two statements already in these proceedings. Everything that I say is true to the best of my knowledge and belief, and I make this statement knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have willfully stated anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.

I live in the House of the Four Winds, which is on the outskirts of the town of Flyte on the coast of Suffolk. The only other person who lives here now is the housekeeper, Jane Martin, who looked after me when I was a boy. My father never comes to visit me anymore.

My mother was killed in this house on the thirty-first of May last year. I described everything that happened in my first two statements. Two men came and murdered her. One of them had a ponytail and a scar behind his...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Final Witness is efficiently rendered stuff, but there's little to shout about. Tolkien knows his way around a courtroom, that's for sure, but that doesn't stop him from resorting to Perry Mason-like cliché if the mood strikes him.

Publishers Weekly
The book is fast paced and crisply plotted, with Tolkien elegantly piecing together the different perspectives and introducing unexpected twists. Yet the characterizations are quite thin and stereotyped, and Tolkien relies on elaborate physical descriptions and heavy-handed, oft-repeated epithets....Still, this is a promising first effort from Tolkien

Library Journal
Tolkien’s skill as a storyteller is worthy of notice in this taut, well-paced legal thriller. The excellent courtroom drama and well-drawn, believable characters make this a good choice. . . . With an easily recognizable surname, a formidable Oxford education, and a successful career as a London barrister, the grandson of the author of The Lord of the Rings is bound to create a stir with this debut novel.

Booklist - Mary Frances Wilkens
Starred Review. Don’t let the author’s last name confuse you, for there are no Hobbits in this debut novel by the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, only a wonderful story of family, relationships, and suspense. . . . Part English cozy, part family saga, part courtroom drama, this genre-bending work of fiction is touching and enchanting.

Reader Reviews

ccarpe3

Final Witness has the slightly awkward tone of a first novel, the situation is cliched, and both the main characters and potentially intriguing secondary characters are insufficiently developed. Nonetheless, I was sufficiently intrigued by it that I...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Simon Tolkien

If you liked Final Witness, try these:

  • Imperium jacket

    Imperium

    by Robert Harris

    Published 2007

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating or charismatic than Cicero. Imperium recounts in vivid detail the story of Cicero's quest for glory, competing with some of the most powerful and intimidating figures of his age: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and many others.

  • The Last Juror jacket

    The Last Juror

    by John Grisham

    Published 2004

    About this book

    More books by this author

    A murderer threatens revenge against his jurors if they convict him. Nevertheless, they find him guilty and he's sentenced to life imprisonment; but nine years later he's on parole and out for vengeance.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...
  • Book Jacket: Sugar Run
    Sugar Run
    by Mesha Maren
    Mesha Maren's debut novel is a plunge into the depths of the dark Southern gothic with pulsing and ...
  • Book Jacket: Code Name Lise
    Code Name Lise
    by Larry Loftis
    Odette Sansom (1912 – 1995), a Frenchwoman married to a British man and living in the English ...

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man
by Jonas Jonasson

The hysterical, clever, and unforgettable sequel to Jonas Jonasson's international bestseller.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.