Learned Enemies by Mark Dryden

  Learned Enemies

Learned Enemies by Mark Dryden
English | 2020| Mystery/Thriller| ePUB | 2.8 MB

Fourteenth Floor, Barwick Chambers, is the most prestigious floor of commercial barristers in Sydney. A top silk is found dead in his room. It looks like an accident until the police discover he was murdered. The news media pounce. Suspicion and paranoia run rampant. Baby barrister, Benjamin Douglas, starts hunting for the killer. But he has competition. The police and a brilliant young female barrister are also chasing the culprit. Will Benjamin catch the killer first?

The Barwick Chambers building was a sclerotic 15-storey structure that stood beside the neo-brutalist Supreme Court tower. It housed about 500 barristers – almost half of the Sydney Bar – and had a separate set of chambers on each floor. The three barristers who represented the plaintiff bank all belonged to Fourteenth Floor, Barwick Chambers.

Alex Hume led his two colleagues, as well as Andrea Carlson and two junior solicitors, out of the Supreme Court tower and around to the Barwick Chambers building. Benjamin had not seen the two junior solicitors before today. The junior solicitors who worked on the matter appeared and disappeared with great rapidity. What happened to them? Were they sacked? Transferred? Mashed into paste? How long would these two last?

Hume led his party through the tiled foyer of the building and into a lift which rose to the fourteenth floor. They stepped into a reception area that projected dignity and tradition. Fake Greek columns framed a huge mahogany counter that rested on a marble terrazzo floor. Faux-mahogany paneling and calfskin law reports lined the walls. Two hefty leather sofas allowed clients to await conferences in comfort.

The building was a hollow square with a huge light well in the middle. A long corridor, with rooms on each side, ran around each floor. Hume led everyone past the bob-haired receptionist towards his room.

Until recently, most barristers occupied book-lined grottoes. However, the rise of the internet made paper books redundant. Many barristers replaced their bookshelves with wood-panelling and modular furniture. Some, though, did not update their rooms. They were too lazy to renovate or thought the presence of law books anchored them in the past and hinted at vast legal erudition.

Alex Hume had retained the traditional decor. On three walls, law books soared up to the high ceiling. A long railing, fixed just above head height, supported a library ladder. The fourth wall had several sliding windows that overlooked the huge light well.

A massive mahogany empire desk with four clawed legs sat on a thick blue carpet. It faced a chesterfield sofa and several ornate needlepoint chairs.

The only objects on Hume’s desk were a computer and a wig-stand with a solid oak hemisphere. He sat and, after carefully placing his peruke on the stand, asked everyone to take a seat. They all sat, except for Benjamin, who lounged against a wall of calf-skin law reports and studied Hume. He did not know the guy well. A friendly solicitor at Smash & Grab advised Andrea Carlson to brief Benjamin in the case. Benjamin met Hume, for the first time, after she briefed him.

His first impressions of Hume were quite positive. Hume fitted the popular image of a top silk. He was in his late forties, tall and handsome, with a smooth manner and a faint drawl. However, Benjamin had started to have serious doubts about the guy. Hume was a performer, not an advocate. Instead of mastering the facts and law of the case, he milked his two junior counsel for essential information and presented it with conviction. He had no clear strategy and improvised a lot.

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