Paperback

Published: Lightning Books (July 2019)

ISBN: 9781785631276

The Cinderella Plan

Abi Silver

£8.99

When the only thing worse than being found guilty...
is being found not guilty

James Salisbury, the owner of a British car manufacturer, ploughs his ‘self-drive’ car into a young family, with deadly consequences. 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.

OUT JULY 2019. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW

Extracts

Bertie Layton, aged three years and one month, standing at the 65th percentile for height, maybe a touch more for weight (‘he is a good eater’ his grandmother would frequently comment when he finished off his sister’s unwanted scraps), was tired of waiting in the central reservation. He craved the Freddo chocolate bar Therese, his mother, had promised him ‘if he was good’ on the way home. He wanted to race his Hot Wheels car around the track his father had constructed for him the previous day and try, independently, to make it loop the loop; and, more than anything else, he was desperate to be able to move his arms and legs freely after spending most of the day confined indoors.

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Extracts

10th October

1  

Bertie Layton, aged three years and one month, standing at the 65th percentile for height, maybe a touch more for weight (‘he is a good eater’ his grandmother would frequently comment when he finished off his sister’s unwanted scraps), was tired of waiting in the central reservation. He craved the Freddo chocolate bar Therese, his mother, had promised him ‘if he was good’ on the way home. He wanted to race his Hot Wheels car around the track his father had constructed for him the previous day and try, independently, to make it loop the loop; and, more than anything else, he was desperate to be able to move his arms and legs freely after spending most of the day confined indoors.

Sensing a momentary lapse in his mother’s attention and grip, he’d removed his hand from his mouth, where it had been languishing, and clutched the two vertical bars of the pram which contained his baby sister, Ruby. Next, he’d slipped his back foot from the shiny plate of the buggy board onto the ground and he used it now to propel himself and the pram forwards into the road.

It was partly a test, pushing the boundaries, as three-year-olds often do (and Bertie more than most). And although he would not have been able to articulate it, being such a little boy, Bertie wanted to feel, once more, that glorious surge of his heart in his chest that accompanied these improvised scooter rides, the adventure amplified by his father’s past whisperings that this was somehow a dangerous activity, the pounding only subsiding later. Sometimes he drifted off to sleep, imagining himself on a giant superhero skateboard, cavorting around the house, his sister in hot pursuit.

Georgia followed her brother, as best she could, with her mother’s arm restraining her. Even though she was older, Bertie was the bolder of the two. ‘He’s the one who encouraged her,’ Therese would complain, exasperated, to her husband, Neil, when another of Bertie’s schemes left Georgia in trouble, while he emerged unscathed. ‘He doesn’t see danger,’ Therese would lament, and Neil would smile proudly and shrug. ‘I don’t think you do when you’re three years old. I’d rather have him this way than timid and scared of his shadow.’

So, Bertie would lead the way across a fallen log, his speed and sheer willpower conveying him to the other side. Georgia, in contrast, would hesitate midway, wobble and then find herself pitched off into whatever water or mud the enticing trunk was straddling.

Even tame pastimes often ended in tears. Playing bowls in the garden, Bertie’s erratic throws would just as often miss as score a spectacular knock-out. But when a frustrated Georgia tried to up her game, she would hold the ball too long and it would plunge down onto her head or toe.

To be fair to Bertie, it wasn’t always his fault that Georgia got hurt; good fortune seemed to follow him around. Like the time he thrust his nose into a pink, rambling rose, drinking up its scent with a broad grin. When Georgia copied, she disturbed a queen bee and ended up being chased around the garden, screaming.

So, lively, luck-kissed Bertie, often-dirty Bertie and sometimes- flirty Bertie, after a snatched, sly glance at his mother, plunged  himself and the baby into the road, with Georgia in pursuit.

Therese, behind the children, but scrambling to catch them, was clipped first by the right-hand side of the bumper of the large blue car. She was hit mid-way up her thigh, her body crumpling inwards and folding over the bonnet. Its momentum carried her up onto the windscreen, where her elbow struck the glass, shattering the bone before she thudded, limp and ragged at the roadside. As she lapsed into darkness, the blue of its bodywork triggered a distant memory of the curtains which had hung in her bedroom as a young girl.

Georgia, taller than Bertie, but light and feathery, with one hand outstretched to grab her brother, was knocked high up into the air and landed just short of the concrete barrier, her head hitting the pavement with a resounding ‘thwack’ which cleaved her skull in two. Bertie, keen to be first across the road was last to be hit, his left arm splintering before he creased over and fell beneath the wheels; two tons of high-tensile strength steel passing over his diminutive body, crushing out his life, his fingers still wet, as they rapped the pavement lightly once, before falling still.

The car came to a halt just short of where Georgia lay, its wheels twisted, its windscreen smashed, its former gleaming chrome grin now ragged and droopy. Its occupant, James Salisbury, aged  fifty-nine years and three months, hovering just below the six- foot mark and, at twelve stone, carrying the same weight as he did at twenty-one, was first thrown forwards then back then forwards again, his brain shifting in the opposite direction to his body, in a textbook coup contre-coup, before coming to rest against the inflated airbag.

Only the pram lay intact. When Bertie was struck, it had been sent into a violent spin. Now it rested, upright, part in the gutter, part clambering its way back up to normality, rocking gently forward and back, its occupant blinking her eyes once, twice, before letting out a tentative cry, which quickly became more persistent when no one came.

quotes

‘It is Abi Silver’s imaginative touches as well as her thorough legal knowledge that make her courtroom thrillers stand out’

Jake Kerridge

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ABOUT

Abi Silver

Abi Silver was born in Leeds and 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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