Evil at Barristers Hall


Fiction - Short Story/Novela
35 Pages
Reviewed on 09/20/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Evil at Barristers Hall is a mystery novella written by Robert Groves. Lisa Evans was in the final lap of her marathon sprint towards becoming a lawyer. Passing the Bar Exam, a grueling multi-day ordeal, was the capstone of all aspiring lawyers’ educations. If law school graduates weren’t studying for some reason, then they were fretting and lamenting not doing so. Lisa and her friends worked to encourage and coach each other through this last all-important challenge. Lisa lived in the Barristers Hall Complex, which was directly across from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon where she studied. Many of Lisa’s friends and fellow students lived there as the complex had been designed specifically for law students by its law school alumnus owner-operator. In June, graduating law students were poised between the end of the semester and the looming bar exam. Lisa was no exception. She had gone home to visit her family in mid-June and then returned to her studies. But then she disappeared. At first, her fellow students, friends and family members figured she hadn’t returned their texts and calls due to her cramming for the bar. Then they started to worry. Where was Lisa, and what happened to make her disappear without a trace?

Robert Groves’s mystery novella, Evil at Barristers Hall, is a taut and suspenseful crime drama about a missing young woman. I loved the extra dimension Groves adds to the story in immersing the reader in Lisa’s recollections of her childhood and interactions with her sisters. The siblings’ strategy to get their mother to let them back into the house, by sacrificing the youngest of them, is hilarious. The author also gives his readers pertinent information with the precision of a crime reporter or police detective, and he offers them any number of red herrings and scenarios to consider in resolving the whereabouts and fate of Lisa Evans. Groves’s characters are credible; his writing is seamless and smooth; and his plot works very well indeed. Evil at Barristers Hall is most highly recommended.

Sherri Fulmer Moorer

A small town in Georgia is rocked by the disappearance of a recent law graduate. It started as a study session for the bar exam, and ends in mystery and intrigue. Evil at Barristers Hall, by Robert Groves, is a short story that tells the tale of a young woman who dreams of moving on from a difficult childhood to truly make a difference, and ends at the center of a mystery. Soon, family and friends from around the nation are looking for this young woman who mysteriously disappeared after an intensive study session. A grisly discovery made by simple chance breaks the mystery, and shows how events unfold and spiral into a tale that affects countless lives.

Evil at Barristers Hall is a fast paced read that takes you through a "slice of life" scenario and gives you a glimpse of the entire process of a crime, from it being committed through the whole legal process. Robert Groves tells a complete tale in a few pages of powerful storytelling as he describes the scenario from several angles. It was a bit difficult for me to keep up with all of the characters, so don't go in thinking this is a light tale because you will need to pay attention to keep up with the characters and the action taking place. If you're looking for a good, intense, quick read, then this is an excellent choice that will keep you entertained through the last page. This story is well written and well done.

Viga Boland

Evil at Barristers Hall by Robert Groves offers a very different approach to crime fiction. The opening chapter sets a mood of lingering, unidentified evil with its description of something being “off” in the air on the morning readers first meet Lisa Evans, a student studying for her final bar exam. The following chapter, in which the narrator changes from third to first person, jolts readers back to Lisa’s childhood where she tells us how she and her siblings were locked out of their home by their mother on a freezing night. As Robert Groves returns to third person narration, readers are ready to settle into a riveting crime story…and the details are gripping and ugly.

But from this point on, once crime reporter Brian Kinsey begins following the sudden disappearance of Lisa Evans after a party, Evil at Barristers Hall becomes more of a documentary, a report, such as that offered by TV shows like 48 Hours. As investigations proceed, and the police begin questioning Lisa’s classmates and friends, along with tenants in the same apartment building as that occupied by Lisa, the source of that “off” smell in the air mentioned in Chapter One is discovered. What follows is nailing down who is responsible for Lisa’s untimely death and why.

What’s interesting about Evil at Barristers Hall is how readers, as a result of Groves’s writing style, find themselves wondering if this is fact or fiction. I even went so far as to research the perpetrator’s name and the location of this story to see if, indeed, someone by that name murdered a law student. Don’t be surprised if you do the same. Groves's style of writing may not appeal to addicts of crime fiction. It is detailed, quite devoid of emotion. After those opening chapters, one doesn’t become all that involved with the characters or the plot. But it’s a quick read and gives an insight into how these investigations are conducted.