Hell Has Harbour Views, by Richard Beasley

The problem with drinking wine from a glass that won’t empty is that by 9.30 you’re pretty pissed. That’s when you start doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Not sober. Like telling a group of clients that you could have handled a particular case a lot more expertly than one of the senior partners had. Like telling another client that he should stop sending work to a particular partner who is, in your opinion, a fool and instead send work to you because you, in your opinion, are not.

In another life, Hugh Walker was a lawyer with a conscience. But when he joined Rottman Maughan and Nash he indavertently sold his soul and so now, it seems, he has none.

Hugh spends his days making sure accident victims get no payouts, turning a blind eye to dubious billing practices and cheating on his girlfriends – both of them. His nights are spent in an alcoholic haze. But at least he’s earning plenty of money. He is, after all, on the way up. That’s what his bosses tell him. Hugh is no longer so sure.

Hell Has Harbour Views provides a satirical insider’s viewpoint of a big multi-national law firm, and of the goings-on within its halls. Hugh is an honest and witty first person narrator, giving an intimate and immediate perspective of events, with his own self-deprecating annotations and honesty.

Because it was recently made into a telemovie of the same name, many people who now read the book will have first seen the film, as was the case with this reviewer. Whilst I could not help imagining the characters as they were cast on television, this was not a bad thing. The telemovie was reasonably true to the book and was well-cast, with the characters in the book matching well with the actors who played them on screen.

Of course, having said that, the book is better than the film – as is so often the case with books that are made into films – with Beasley’s style making the story so much more witty, insightful and just entertaining.

A great read.

Hell Has Harbour Views, by Richard Beasley
Pan Macmillan, first published 2001, this edition 2005