BOOK CLUB: Private Prosecution

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“Private Prosecution” by Lisa Ellery is a relatively short crime novel that nevertheless lands a substantial punch. I enjoyed it a lot.

There’s a whole sub-genre of crime novels that could be described as “lawyer sticks their nose in too far”. This sub-genre thrives in America but isn’t seen too often in Australia. That makes this novel stand out a little, especially as it’s good enough to stand up with some of the best of the genre.

Andrew Deacon is shattered to discover he’s a suspect in the murder of the woman he spent last night with. It would shake anyone, but it’s particularly distressing when you’re a lawyer in the Department of Public Prosecution. It rather tends to undermine your professional position.

Andrew is quickly cleared of the crime, but it still preys on his mind. He concludes that the victim’s brother-in-law is responsible for her murder. But he’s Sam Godfrey SC, one of the more powerful lawyers in the state. It’s not easy to get the police or family to believe him, and it’ll be even harder to prove.

Like most crime novels, the basic template will be familiar to anyone who reads a lot in the genre. That rarely matters much in a well-written crime novel, and this one is very well written.



Ellery brings veracity to Andrew’s knowledge of the law and his daily interactions with police and defence lawyers which is presumably born from her own legal background. It’s subtly woven into the story, almost unnoticeable, but it’s important because it helps make the story feel very real.

This is not a whodunnit – it’s a howdunnit, and whydunnit. We know quite early who was responsible for Lily’s death, but it’s a matter of working out how and why and getting the evidence to convict him.

One minor flaw is that I spotted a part of the “why” very early in the novel, far earlier than I think I was meant to. This took the wind out of the sails of a revelation a hundred pages later. However, there were other aspects I didn’t catch. Ellery will keep most readers absorbed as Andrew slowly unwinds the details of how and why Lily was murdered. I certainly found it hard to put down.

Andrew’s knowledge of the law and the course events is likely to take makes his decisions more realistic and understandable. In some crime novels, I spend a good deal of time wondering why the protagonist doesn’t simply go to the police. Here Andrew’s awareness of the limitations of the police, and what they need in the way of evidence to be effective, means we understand his thought process, and the whole thing seems more credible.

“Private Prosecution” is a relatively short novel, but tightly written and convincingly carried off. It’s one of the better Australian crime novels I’ve read of late. It will appeal most to crime readers, but readers who look for strong characters are also likely to appreciate this.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Private Prosecution by Lisa Ellery. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781925 816730
Copy courtesy of Fremantle Press (2021)

4 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Private Prosecution

  1. This crime story set around the murder of Lil Constantine was quite fast-paced and very enjoyable.
    The debut novel, written by lawyer Lisa Ellery, shines with just the right amount of legalise and police jargon that make it realistic but not over-powering like it can be in other novels.

    The main character Andrew Deacon was first accused of Lil’s murder but then set out to catch the killer. I found I ‘liked’ him even though some of his choices/actions were perhaps a bit extreme. I really wanted to see him succeed and ensure the killer was identified and dealt with suitably. I also found the other supporting characters interesting.

    I love reading Australian stories and this legal thriller was no exception. I would recommend to anyone who likes this genre. I have no doubt that I will be keeping my eye out for future books by this author.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Freemantle Press for allowing to me read this book.

  2. Thanks BeautyandLace and Fremantle Press for providing me with Private Prosecution by Lisa Ellery to read.
    The main character is Andrew Deacon, he’s an ambitious young junior prosecutor at the West Australian DPP. He finds himself the prime suspect after spending a wild night with the beautiful stranger Lil Constantine ; who turns up deceased in her apartment the next day. Andrew is the last person to have seen Lil alive and is under investigation.

    Andrew is convinced he knows who the cold blooded killer is, but trying to prove this is going to put him more danger. I kind of felt sorry for him as he felt like he owed this to Lil to find find her killer despite his life being totally messed up in the process.

    With a warrant for his arrest and his life in ruins, Andrew finds himself on the run as he’s trying to find evidence to finally bring Lil’s killer to justice. This novel gave a glimpse of the legal progress involved in a criminal prosecution which I found interesting too.

    I really enjoyed this thriller, it was action packed and fast paced and kept me entertained until the very end.

    What a great debut novel by Lisa Ellery, I don’t normally go for crime novels but I throughly enjoyed this face paced action thriller.

  3. Private Prosecution by Lisa Ellery is a fast-paced page-turner.

    Andrew Deacon is a junior prosecutor with plenty of potential to succeed in his chosen career path but a one-night stand with Lil Constantine, a beautiful young lady, lands him in hot water when she is found murdered the next day.

    Andrew believes he knows who the murderer is, but with no proof, he has very little to go on. And when he gets beaten up in a car park, things start to go downhill for him very fast.
    Even though Andrew is young and arrogant, I really liked his character and his sense of humour. He was a little annoying being so immature, but I also found that interesting from his point of view. The novel touches on dark matters – obviously murder, but also corruption, violence and drug abuse. Lisa Ellery’s knowledge of the Australian legal system was highly evident in the novel.

    With many twists and turns, this thrilling crime novel is definitely an enjoyable read and I recommend it. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to review this book.

  4. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Freemantle Press for providing me with a copy of Private Prosecution by Lisa Ellery.

    This book was a fantastic read. It was fast past, unpredictable & intriguing. I love reading crime / legal thrillers & was very happy to find that this book rated up with some of the best that I’ve read.

    I really look forward to more from this author.

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