Blurb: 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.
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My Review: When I saw the blurb for this book I thought it would be an interesting read. I am not a fan of driverless cars because I don’t feel technology can adjust to unexpected changes the way people can. Perhaps in 20 years but certainly not sooner. This story, however, is set in a Britain poised on the edge of the possibility of autonomous cars becoming an everyday sight on the roads. It shows the people involved in Parliament, care insurance and the car manufacturers grappling with the various intricacies of bringing such a thing onto the roads on a large scale and, even more importantly perhaps, trying to determine liability if something goes wrong.
And then, something does and we see the consequences of that, the impact of it on the person in the car, the family that it hit and the other characters in the story. All of the perspectives of these people are handled well, from the grieving and angry father to the person who was in the car, James Salisbury, who remembers nothing and wants to get to the heart of what happened.
We see the debates about autonomous cars, the accident, the investigation and court case and then the consequences of the verdict. The whole thing from start to finish is thoroughly covered so exactly as it would be if it were to happen in real life, it doesn’t skim over the unpleasant bits but shows all of it.
I liked the debating, for this is likely to be an endless, unanswerable question so to have so much debate and conflicting viewpoints was good to see. I did find the book a little long but I suspect the length was necessary for the debates and depth that it covered.
If you like reading books that examine puzzles from all angles and attempt to answer unanswerable questions then this may be right up your street. It has a cast of solidly realistic characters and plenty of ‘what if’ questions to ponder over.
About the author:
Yorkshire-bred, Abi Silver is a lawyer by profession. She lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and three sons. Her first courtroom thriller featuring the legal duo Judith Burton and Constance Lamb, The Pinocchio Brief, was published by Lightning Books in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. Her follow-up The Aladdin Trial, featuring the same legal team, was published in 2018.
Read more about Abi and her work at www.abisilver.co.uk .
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