Cover Image: Stung

Stung

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Stung: An Arthur Beauchamp Novel by William Deverell follows multiple different perspectives before and during a criminal trial. Arthur Beauchamp is an almost retired lawyer who hears word of a group called the 'Sarnia Seven' who are about to be convicted of multiple different grievances in the name of saving the bees. We get to read the perspective of Rivke Levitsky, one of the Sarnia Seven and Jake Maguire, a police investigator assigned to the case. 

I've never read a legal thriller before so I was pretty excited to get stuck into this, and it was about bees which I absolutely love and try my best to help out when I can. This novel didn't disappoint, it was exciting and informative, realistic and captivating. Reading all of the different perspectives is probably what made it so interesting, I don't think I would've been able to stay interested in such a long novel if it was a single POV however I didn't feel bored at all throughout this book. 

The one negative I have doesn't have to do with the writing however the kindle formatting is honestly the worst I have ever seen. The chapters aren't separated and there are random spaces and paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences. Whilst I was able to ignore it for the most part, I do think that this was part of the reason it took me a while to finish the book. 

4/5 stars. Thank you to Netgalley and William Deverell for this novel to review.
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Is sabotage a legitimate way to protect the larger community?  What about if it's to protect bees, which are critical to the ecosystem?  That's the defense that Arthur Beauchamp is trying to use in the case of the "Sarnia Seven" who are trying to stop Chemican, a big chemical company, from producing their insecticide Vigro.  This is told from multiple perspectives but always focuses on environmental issues, including Arthur's own struggle with a mining company which wants his land.  I'd not read the earlier books which put me at a bit of a disadvantage with some of the characters but no more than the fact that I'm unfamiliar with Canadian law.  No matter- it was a good, educational read that while it focuses on the evils of big business and the environment, doesn't become a screed.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Interesting.
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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, William Deverell, and ECW Press for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

The arrival of a new Arthur Beauchamp novel is always reason to celebrate. It shows that William Deverell has been hard at work, using his unique style to craft a truly Canadian legal thriller that has layers of strong plotting and even better off-the-cuff comments about the world in which we live. Deverell does not disappoint with this piece, which takes the reader on many an adventure, with a court case that is sure to pique the interest of those who enjoy such things. Highly recommended to those who love courtroom dramas, as well as the reader who has a penchant for all things Canadian.

It was all about the honeybee, or at least that’s what they said. Chemican-International is touting their new pesticide, Vigor-Gro, which has been useful to hep farmers and their crops, but has been wreaking havoc on the bees that try to pollinate. Rivkie Levitsky is working with a group of young eco-friendly people, all of whom are trying to make Chemican see the error of their ways. Their latest ploy is to get inside the Canadian plant outside Sarnia, where they will be able to stop things, at least temporarily. 

All the while, Arthur Beauchamp (that’s “Beech’m”) has been enjoying life on his tract of land in Garibaldi, British Columbia. With his wife away serving as a Member of Parliament, he’s taken to enjoying the farm life and still thinking back on his many courtroom victories as a criminal defence attorney. Beauchamp has also been using more of his time to tend to local issues, which includes blocking an American company from mining the resources out from under him. While Beauchamp has a few minor dust-ups with the law, he’s peaceful for the most part.

Once Rivkie and her crew strike at the local Chemican plant, they cause quite the stir, which begins an extensive police investigation. The ‘Sarnia Seven’ are collected after the evidence is gathered and a few well-timed sting operations locate their lair. Helping out an old friend (and with the insistence of his wife), Beauchamp agrees to defend five of the members, prepared to use the necessity defence. While Beauchamp is not as familiar with it, he understands that arguing the act of sabotage was needed to protect the larger community—read: the bees—though this will be a hard sell. 

In the lead-up to trial, Beauchamp must not only handle the cross-country travel to meet its his clients and co-counsel, but also handle some issue on the home front that he would likely prefer stay on the back burner. It’s going to be a lot to take on, especially as he has a long record of victories in the courtroom, matched against a Crown Prosecutor with an equally long string of victories. This is sure to be one trial no one wants to miss. 

As the trial comes to a head, it will not only be a necessity defence that Beauchamp presents, but one vilifying Chemican-International. Fallout from the pesticide has not only been hurting the bees, but there are studies that show human consumption, albeit minutely, has been causing issues as well. Beauchamp must push this line of inquiry against the Crown’s insistence that it is futile, while the judge is keen to see things wrapped up swiftly. Add to that, there are issues within the jury that could cause things to topple over before closing arguments are finished. Beauchamp will have to use all his legal prowess, but even that might not be enough.

I discovered the wonders of William Deverell a number of years ago. His writing is not only detailed and highly addictive, but also layers the wonders of the Canadian legal system, putting a spotlight on its nuances, contrasting nicely with the supersaturation of American law in the genre. Of particular note, the Arthur Beauchamp series offers the reader a great escape into some true Canadiana with subplots that are second to none. Any reader who has the patience to sift through many of the tangential plot lines will not be disappointed with the series.

Arthur Beauchamp is a great protagonist in yet another novel. A brilliant legal mind, as is mentioned throughout the series, Beauchamp does not come across as pompous or egotistical. Quite the opposite, he struggles to sink into the background and enjoy retirement. Deverell places him in numerous sticky situations throughout the story, both of the legal and personal variety, which adds to the reader’s enjoyment. Those who have followed Beauchamp throughout the series will see how certain pieces connect in this novel, while others are new and exciting additions to an already full plate. Deverell does showcase the wonderful legal mind Beauchamp possesses, particularly in the courtroom, though the reader is not inundated with legalese that is sure to leave them befuddled. 

The cast of secondary characters is quite complex and all encompassing, which adds to the depth of the narrative. The story takes place in various domains and tackles a few interconnected plot lines, all of which require strong characters to keep the momentum up. Deverell delivers unique and enjoyable characters, some of whom complement each other well, while not losing the reader in the tangential nature of the story. There are returning faces that add flavour to the story, as well as first-timers, some of whom I hope will return, should Arthur Beauchamp have more steam to offer in another novel.

The story itself was one of the best I have read from William Deverell. While it was a Herculean effort due to the details, most of his novels are, though they flow with ease. There is so much going on that the reader must almost keep a scorecard to set matters straight. Arthur Beauchamp is on display throughout, tackling so many interesting aspects of his life, as well as the case. The story is split into three narrative perspectives, which adds depth to the piece and keeps the reader pushing ahead. Add to that, Deverell has separated the book into chapters, as well as sub-chapters, which effectively serve to divide up the action for the reader. The flow of the book is not lost with the repeated divisions, though some may wonder why a more traditional approach was not taken. The narrative is sprinkled full of tongue-in-cheek moments, which lightens the mood in what is surely a high intensity piece. One cannot escape some of the science related to the topic at hand, though Deverell handles it effectively, educating the reader without drowning them in minutiae. I can only hope there is more to come, as Arthur Beauchamp is one character who never is at a loss for dramatic interactions.

Kudos, Mr. Deverell, for another stunner. I love the mix of courtroom, rural Canada, and flashy crime thriller aspects. You are in a league all your own and I hope others discover your magic. Pardon the pun, but there is a real ‘buzz’ in this piece, well worth the attention of the masses.
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Talented author, William Deverell’s eighth installment in the Arthur Beauchamp series, Stung, is a 592 page political-legal thriller highlighting the ecological catastrophe of the dwindling honeybee population.

The three plots are each told from a different perspective. The main storyline features Arthur Beauchamp, aging British Columbia defense lawyer and main protagonist, who takes on the case of seven environmentalists in Toronto, Ontario who have been accused of sabotaging Chemican International. This plant has purportedly been producing a pesticide leading to the devastating death of honeybees in Brazil. Full of nail-biting courtroom suspense, the trial is decided upon by a jury verdict. Back home in his Salish Sea island home, Beauchamp finds himself arrested for fighting against the potential destruction of the popular Quarry Park. 

The second storyline begins with Rivke Levitsky, a spunky environmental activist who sets out to seduce the director of security operations for Chemican’s Canadian divison as part of the activists’ sting operation. She is caught, charged with sabotage and is on trial in the Toronto courthouse. Her tale is uniquely told in the first person, making it memorable.

The third storyline involves two police officers as they track down the environmentalists. Jake McGuire is a tough and cynical Ontario Provincial Police investigator involved in the case. 

The character driven plot is engaging, the characters are memorable and well-layered, and the prose is filled with satire and witty comebacks. The courtroom scenes are meticulously written and it’s obvious that his time as a criminal lawyer has resulted in the success of these scenes. Unfortunately, I found that the swearing and horny characters degraded the story. 

I was drawn to this novel because it was written by a Canadian and set in Canada. 

Thank you to William Deverell, ECW Press and NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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With so much interest in man’s impact on the environment, the author comes up with a great legal thriller. Have the environmentalists gone too far her their fight for their cause? It’s up to the jury to decide.
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