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Witness for the Defence

A. E. W. Mason

Book Overview: 

Part romance, part mystery, part courtroom and quasi-courtroom drama. Young love reignites itself after a hiatus of some years. Or does it? Much can change in that time -- both to the people themselves, and to the events that shape their lives. The action moves from England to India, and back again, confronting the protagonists with problems they never dreamed they’d have to face.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .No, no indeed," Thresk replied, and Captain Ballantyne stumbled back into the tent. His face was livid, and yet the sweat stood upon his forehead. Stella Ballantyne drew back, but Ballantyne saw her as she moved and drove her to her own quarters.

"I have a private message for Mr. Thresk's ears," he said, and when she had gone he took out his handkerchief and wiped his forehead.

"Now you must help me," he said in a low voice. But his voice shook and his eyes strayed again to the ground by the wall of the tent.

"It was just there the arm came through," he said. "Yes, just there," and he pointed a trembling finger.

"Arm?" cried Thresk. "What are you talking about?"

Ballantyne looked away from the wall to Thresk, his eyes incredulous.

"But you saw!" he insisted, leaning forward over the table.


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Community Reviews

This is one of my favorite books by Mason, partly because it features a very interesting female character, and partly because it is an honest analysis of human nature and behavior.

Mason's characters are human beings by excellence. They love and they hate, they do wrong and they strive for good, the

cute, but not too interesting

As Sir Walter Scott observed in 180i

"Oh, what a tangled web we weabe,
When first we practice to deceive."
A young man from a family of modest means has great ambitions. The best way to realize those dreams - become a famous barrister, try for a seat in parliament - is to study law. He is ready to begi

I didn't find it enthralling.


I like it for the hopeless romantic in me, that saves the book for me.

It’s not particularly well written at times, the narrative doesn’t flow as smooth all the way through, and Mason seems to reveal some of his prejudices and the views of his time (India as the dark exotic land of secrets, Victor

Not the riveting courtroom drama I anticipated. This, rather, was a tragic love story. And what one man would do for the woman he loved, and she for him. Lives gone wrong, love endures. This was a great story.

Older but great

Loved it. It us very well written, and keeps you guessing right up until the end. A little intrigue, a little romance, a little deceit. What's not to like? Nice to curl up with in front of a fire. I will read the others.

Legal and psychological thriller

Really well crafted"mystery," with courtroom drama, psychological twists and some ironic social commentary. You can't ask for anything more. I'll be reading more by this author.

Well-written and engaging. The ending was less-than-satisfying, but I don't know how he could have ended it differently. Two people learn how they have misunderstood each other, with far-reaching consequences. A recurring quotation: "People get what they want if they want it enough, but they can't c

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