Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Lightning Books
Launch date: August 2017
A SUNDAY TIMES CRIME CLUB PICK
“A first-rate courtroom drama” – Daily Mail
SHORTLISTED: Waverton Good Read Award
A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the brutal murder of one of his teachers.
His lawyers – the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance – begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school.
But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?
The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping courtroom thriller which confronts our assumptions about truth and our increasing reliance on technology.
“Pinocchio takes lie detection to another level.”
He tapped his laptop mouse, exaggeratedly, and a second image filled the screen. The word “Pinocchio” appeared at the top in bold red letters and beneath it was the Disney version of Pinocchio’s face, replete with extended nose, sprouting leaves and a bird’s nest at the very end with two feathered inhabitants. Underneath it read “the LIE is as plain as the nose on your face”. The audience giggled politely.
“Now, in the story, when Pinocchio told lies his nose grew. That isn’t quite what happens here. This Pinocchio, my Pinocchio software, watches how people move, not what they say but how they say it and it works out all by itself whether someone is telling the truth or not. No wires, no time wasting, no training. Just sit those criminals in front of the screen and let Pinocchio ‘read’ their faces. The report is ready straight away, every word assessed for truthfulness, every lie exposed.”
“Intelligently conceived and cleverly constructed – topical, relevant and engaging.”
Ted Childs, creator of Kavanagh QC
“An evocative and gripping thriller, where present day meets the technology of the near future. Abi Silver raises startling questions about the dependence and interdependence of technology in our lives in this pacy courtroom drama.”
Maha Khan Phillips, author of The Curse of Mohenjodaro
“You may not have heard of Abi Silver, but if her new book The Pinocchio Brief is anything to go by, you soon will have done.”
“A refreshing debut from a former lawyer – a first-rate courtroom drama”
“Raymond Maynard, a precocious 15-year-old schoolboy, is accused of the brutal murder of one of his teachers. Silver, a former solicitor, conjures up a shock for his defence team: the boy’s testimony will be judged by a machine. If this sounds far-fetched, it’s not. Swingeing cuts to legal aid budgets around the world are resulting in ever increasing digitalisation. Silver’s taut thriller provides ample food for thought as the defence team confront the implications of machines dispensing justice.”
“Pinocchio is the name of a newly developed device that detects lies and which the government has decided to use in law courts. It is supposed to perceive and interpret facial expression and body language, its conclusions providing more accurate judgements than any jury could reach. Regarding this machine as infallible is a dangerous and plausible idea that is central to this fascinating tale... This is a good read and an excellent first novel.”
“A quirky and charming debut novel that combines modern technology with a good old-fashioned courtroom drama.”
“A legal thriller with a neat angle and loads of twists: I cannot tell a lie, this is an excellent read.”
Sunday Sport ****
“There's plenty of buzz around this debut courtroom thriller inspired by a true story involving controversial lie-detecting technology. A troubled teenage schoolboy is accused of murdering one of his teachers. His lawyers – old hand Judith and young whippersnapper Constance – soon discover nasty secrets about his school. But will Judith's questionable past also be revealed when new state-of-the-art lie-detection software is used on the case? The unexpected twist is a jaw-dropper.”
“The Pinocchio Brief will keep you gripped throughout and has a satisfying twist in the tail. ... [It is] an exceptionally accomplished debut novel.”
“Rumpole of the Bailey, Kavanagh QC, Perry Mason – famous fictional seen-it-all, heard-it-all lawyers. Joining their ranks this summer is Judith Burton, heroine of The Pinocchio Brief… Abi Silver’s debut novel is an enjoyable, at times compelling, thriller-cum-courtroom drama that asks serious questions about truth, lying and how the justice system should establish one from the other.”
“It is a very good courtroom story about a young schoolboy who is accused of murder, the school where the crime is set and the lawyers who defend him. The characters are well-drawn and it is a good, pacy tale.”
“Stunning debut novel – I cannot wait to read Abi Silver’s next one.”
“The Pinocchio Brief is a cracking courtroom drama but the murder story is also really well thought out. Shades of classic Christie with the murder in the school, a small suspect pool who all have very different backgrounds and each of the suspects has a reason for bumping off the teacher. This is the type of book I love to read. Seek it out.”
“The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping, very human thriller which confronts our assumptions about truth and reliance on technology.”
“The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping thriller which really challenges us to think about the way we present the truth... You’ll be drawn in as successfully as any John Grisham courtroom drama. A great holiday read.”
“The Pinocchio Brief really hit the sweet spot: addictive, intelligent and with some truly memorable characters. A real page-turner while being a brilliantly observant look at human nature and the vagaries of the legal system. Simply a cracking read.”
“The Pinocchio Brief is thrilling and complex, quite different to anything else I've read recently. The idea of the 'Pinocchio' machine feels entirely plausible, and there is a refreshing authenticity to this story. It is clear that the author's legal background adds depth. Extremely well written, this novel keeps the reader on their toes and is a fine debut. I look forward to reading more from Abi Silver.”
“The crime market is flooded with psychological thrillers and domestic noir, so it was a welcome change to read The Pinocchio Brief, which is a courtroom drama and legal investigation. Abi Silver has a great knack of describing her characters. The premise of the novel – a lie-detecting device used in courtroom trials – is an interesting and intriguing one. Silver certainly kept me guessing and knows how to plot a twisty book. I'll be interested to see what she comes up with next.”
“I loved this book. The Pinocchio Brief is an excitingly realistic portrayal of court room drama, and I was completely sucked in. If you're looking for a book to grip you this summer, The Pinocchio Brief is the one to read.”
“I wasn’t able to put the book down.”
“The Pinocchio Brief should be your next read if you love thrillers. I was totally glued to this page-turning story.”
“Very impressed. Recommended.”
Would artificial intelligence put an end to miscarriages of justice or simply cause new problems? Ayo Onatade of the crime e-zine Shots looks at the ethical issues raised in The Pinocchio Brief.
Abi Silver assures Crime Time there is nothing far-fetched about the revolutionary lie-detection technology in The Pinocchio Brief.
Abi talks to her old law firm Allen & Overy about the transition from litigator to crime writer.