Book review: Fade to Grey by John Lincoln

fade to grey john lincolnFade to Grey is the first in a series featuring Gethin Grey. He heads up a firm which investigates miscarriages of justice. He is hired by actor Amelia Laverne to pursue what she believes is the wrongful conviction for murder of a young woman by Izma M. He has become a bestselling author and something of a celebrity himself while in prison.

Grey and his team of investigators begin work, reinterviewing witnesses and piecing together the story. Laverne shows a disconcerting tendency to tag along and Grey is concerned about her motivation. Meanwhile, he is confronting his own demons, in particular a gambling addiction.

I have mixed feelings about Fade to Grey. I liked the characterisation and Grey’s history. Alongside the case run the story of his marriage, his gambling issues, his own past legal troubles and in particular, his complex relationship with his father, a stern and determined pillar of the legal establishment who he refers to as ‘the Judge’.

The book also has a strong feel for contemporary social issues and a great sense of place. Grey is based in Cardiff and much of the investigation takes place in Bristol. They are both cities I know a little, but not well, and I enjoyed exploring them with Grey.

I was less sure about the plotting which felt a little ponderous, especially at the beginning when it was weighed down with exposition. I was also a bit confused about Grey’s motivation.

He is portrayed both as someone who is passionate about social justice yet he is also willing to pervert the course of justice (there is an aside where he agrees to bribe two known offenders to take the blame for the crimes of his middle-class clients). The justification seems to be that he will take jobs that pay in order to subsidise those that he believes in.

It’s a fresh premise and it will be interesting to see where it goes but I’m not sure it’s a sustainable business model.

I received a copy of Fade to Grey from the publisher.
View Fade to Grey on Goodreads




  1. It can be tricky, I think, to get the grey right when one doesn’t want to write a black-and-white story, to understand why a character makes certain choices. I like wriggle room to interpret, but I also want to believe that the author has spent years with a character (years I haven’t observed and am not required to participate in either) and knows them through-and-through (at least as well, or maybe even better, than they know themselves).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.