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.
©2004 Simon Tolkien; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
**I have to admit, I didn't finish listening to this audiobook.**
I was hugely disappointed--so much that I'm writing my first review!
First, the recording quality is poor. It sounds like it was recorded inside a tin can. Plus the narration is horrible. Mr. Tolkein's voice lacks inflection, and he did little to distinguish the characters' voices or convey any believable emotion. The story might have been much easier to swallow, and the poor recording quality might have been excusable, had a professional voice-over actor been used.
In any event, the writing has an unpolished quality to it. It seemed to need one more round of editting. And there seemed to be a childish obsession with dropping the F-bomb! I don't mind cussing in a story, but it should seem natural. Here it was used for the sake of using it--and it wasn't used well. That's why I described its use as childish. He was like a kid swearing when no adults are around. No context, just cussing to cuss.
Worse, the F-bomb was the extent of his foul-language vocabulary. No S-words, no D-words. Just F. It was annoying.
These things, along with two rather graphic yet pointless wet dreams (again, less than half-way through the book), finally caused me to lose interest entirely.
I'm truly sorry to say it. I had high hopes, and I hate to have to be so harsh. But this audiobook was terrible.
I eagerly anticipated listening to this first novel of J. R. R. Tolkien's grandson, and it did not disappoint me. Of course, Simon Tolkien isn't writing anything like "The Lord of the Rings," but he does make a nod to his famous grandfather by including in the plot a beautiful, but evil ring which needs to be disposed of, and a family named Sackville. Otherwise, "The Final Witness" is set firmly in present-day reality -- in particular, in a British courtroom. As an American fan of legal thrillers, I enjoyed noticing the differences between a British courtroom and an American courtroom -- in particular, the gowns and wigs, but also some discrepancies in procedure. Although Simon Tolkein has a beautiful, upper-class voice, I don't think he should be narrating his own audiobooks. He doesn't seem to have had sufficient acting training to vocally distinguish his characters, which sometimes causes confusion to his listeners. Mostly for this reason, I docked one star from my rating of "The Final Witness." Otherwise, I recommend this audiobook to anyone who enjoys listening to mystery stories with a courtroom component (although I would not categorize "The Final Witness" as a legal thriller, a la John Grisham). Don't be looking for Elves, Dwarves, or Hobbits.
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