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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Every day in the UK lives are suddenly, brutally, wickedly taken away. Victims are shot or stabbed. Less often they are strangled or suffocated or beaten to death. Rarely they are poisoned, pushed off high buildings, drowned or set alight. Then there are the many who are killed by dangerous drivers, or corporate gross negligence. There are a lot of ways you can kill someone. I know because I've seen most of them at close quarters.

As one of just a few judges licensed to try murder cases at the Old Bailey, the author has presided over many of the high-profile cases that all too often grab our attention in dramatic media headlines—for every unlawful death tells a story. But, unlike most of us, a judge doesn't get to turn the page and move on. Nor does the defendant, or the family of the victim, nor the many other people who populate the court room.

Peeling apart six dramatic murder and manslaughter cases, Unlawful Killings removes this distinction between 'them' and 'us'. By detailing the inner workings of the Old Bailey and UK law, the author makes clear that each of us has a vested interest in what happens in the court room—especially when it comes to the death of a fellow human being. Any one of us could end up in the witness-box or even in the dock. And yet most people have only the sketchiest idea of what happens inside a Crown Court. With breath-taking skill and deep compassion, the author describes how cases unfold and illustrates exactly what it's like to be a murder trial judge and a witness to human good and bad. Sometimes very bad.

Right now, with our courts straining under the weight of the many heinous crimes being committed, it's not merely the system that is flawed. The fracture lines that run through our society are becoming harder and harder to ignore and, from a unique vantage point, the author warns that we do so at our peril.

©2022 Anonymous (P)2022 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Unlawful Killings

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Absolutely superb read, I hope Her Honour will write another

Her honourable Judge Wendy Joseph QC’s accounts of sitting at the old Bailey, told with intricate detail, sharp wit, kindness, humility not to mention a formidable upholder of British justice, each chapter is summarised at the end with an explanation of the defendants crime and how it sits within society, gang culture to murder, to male teachers abusing their positions, she breaks down the trials and delivers it all so eloquently you almost feel as if you are in the court room. I do hope she is writing another book.

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Enjoyable

Enjoyable but I think more cases would have been better. Six just wasn’t enough. Additionally I'm disappointed that the Author didn't narrate.

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Thought provoking

Up there with the best I've purchased. Judge Joseph QC brings the listener right into the epicentre of each case.... The result of each certainly isn't a foregone conclusion..

Highly recommended.

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A thoroughly absorbing and informative book.

High court Judge Wendy Joseph QC relates six cases that are characteristic of the many murder trials she presided over during a ten-year period at the Old Bailey. Her writing style is witty and highly intelligent, though never difficult to read or heavy handed. The six cases she covers are all very different but, in each account, she details the day-to-day machineries of the court, how English law works, the way evidence is presented, and how barristers represent their individual clients.

Each case is traumatic in different ways – from the reactions of the witnesses and their relatives to those of the jury. While Wendy Joseph’s writing is often clever and amusing, it is also filled with compassion and insight. Even so, sometimes juries do not return the verdicts she expects. The last case in this book is particularly difficult, being that of a woman who has apparently shot her husband – a man who dedicated his life to crime and violence.

A thoroughly absorbing and informative book.

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Captivating

A book that is genuinely thought provoking, instructive and insightful. The author’s sense of humour is evident in the writing but more importantly the gravity of her task and the burden on both her, the jury and all the others involved is brought into sharp focus. A must for anyone who has ever had an opinion on a verdict passed in a murder trial

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Fascinating insight into the legal system

Her Honour Wendy Joseph QC gives a detailed, thoughtful and highly insightful account of how the English legal system deals with unlawful killings of various types, illustrating the various (composite) cases described by actual although anonymised cases and characters accompanied by specific points of law. I shall probably re-listen to this book

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Excellent

absolutely brilliant and couldn't put it down. definitely recommend to anyone interested in true crime and the British justice system

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Proper law talk, with engaging stories

courts on tv... we know it's not real, but we don't know how it really works. this books shows the inner workings, with engaging stories along the way. recommended for anyone who has seen someone shout objection in a UK court drama?

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insight at it's best

I haven't reviewed a book before but this book is so informative, enlightening and thought provoking I felt the need to comment. A very, very good read. Thank you Judge Wendy Joseph and readers. Maybe it should be added to school curriculums????

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thoughtful, compassionate, informative

Through an in depth review of a small number of murder cases the judge reviews English law, advocacy, sentencing and the jury system. An excellent introduction to the complexity of Criminal Law

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  • Alexander
  • 06-08-22

What an incredible listen

(if you’re looking for reviews, check the .co.uk reviews tab)

The only thing I can say about this book that isn’t slack-jawed praise is that I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the “accompanying PDF” that the narrator keeps referring to.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-22

i wasnlooking forward to this...

This sounded like something I would really enjoy. Then the narrator started trying to do accents or something, but actually just sounded drunk. Then I realised that both the author and narrator must be snobs and that is why I did not like this book. I am on the 5th chapter and decided that I must return this book and use that credit for something with more credit. Sad if a well-respected judge comes accross as having no credit...the judge must have a really had a story to tell...maybe she just employed the wrong narrator. The author tries to prove from the start that she is making/made a difference but she wants to prove it because her life's work did not prove it or make any significant difference. It is a last grab at trying your best at life/your past life.