Book Review of The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown by Marta Pacini

The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown by Marta Pacini is about 15-year-old Marcus and his fight for justice after his father is killed by a policeman.

Thank you so much to Marta Pacini for sending me a free copy of The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown in return for an honest review.

The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown follows 15-year-old Marcus and his fight for justice, after he witnesses his father’s killing by Police Sergeant Talbot Blair.

It’s available on Amazon for Kindle (released on 17th February 2022), and you can add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

My review

It’s very easy (as a British White person) to see a lot of debates online about race relations and the police, and think that this doesn’t apply to the UK. However, The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown has changed my views on that. It is set in Hackney, East London, and it was incredibly eye-opening about the British justice system. It takes a lot of inspiration from the tragic murders of Sean Rigg and Stephen Lawrence, among others.

I felt like I learned a lot about how British law works through this book. For example, I had assumed that the Independent Office for Police Conduct would be totally independent — but over 80% of IOPC investigators are former police officers. As Marcus considers, would he be able to remain impartial while investigating his classmates?

I thought Marcus was a great character. I especially enjoyed his discussions with Ama about his identity — and the point about even though Ama has Irish grandparents, she feels more Ghanaian than Irish as she doesn’t ‘look’ Irish. It was really insightful and not something I’ve ever had to consider myself, as someone who is from a White British background. Marcus is incredibly well-written, and the dialogue with his friends felt realistic. (But it did make me feel old — I didn’t know that ‘calm’ is the new ‘cool’!) I really felt his frustration about how his mother was apathetic, and willing to believe his father was actually a criminal! I couldn’t really understand how she could remain so impassive, and not feel as angry about it as Marcus did!

In places The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown feels perhaps a bit too educational. I think that’s because of the important subject matter, and because it’s not an area I know much about. But I did enjoy reading it and I think it focuses on something that’s really important, and that I’ve not read about in fiction before. To me, this is an absolute must-read for anyone wanting to learn more about Black rights in the UK, and what happens when the police kill people — and how hard it is to get justice when police kill unlawfully.

The blurb for The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown

The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown is a gripping YA book set in contemporary East London.

Marcus, 15, wants to bring Police Sergeant Talbot Blair to justice for shooting his father dead in a racially motivated incident. But how can he do that when the police investigators have cleared Blair of blame? Will an inquest make any difference?

Part Small Great Things, part The Hate U Give, this compelling story sees a young man take on the entire criminal justice system.

Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Alex Wheatle and Nic Stone.

Marta PaciniAbout the author, Marta Pacini

Marta Pacini is the pioneering founder of radical independent publisher Disturbance Press. She has two political fiction books in the works: The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown and Conspiracy (adult, forthcoming in June 2022).

Marta was selected to participate in Lancaster Litfest’s New Writing North West 2021 Fiction workshop, and an extract from her upcoming work Conspiracy was published in the New Writing North West 2021 anthology.

Marta is a roamer who currently lays her hat in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, England.

The (Un)lawful Killing of Daniel Brown is available on Amazon for Kindle (released on 17th February 2022).