Final Witness by Simon Tolkien
A Novel

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The grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien makes a thrilling debut as a novelist in this suspenseful courtroom drama that will have you guessing to the very end.

“Don’t let the author’s last name confuse you, for there are no Hobbits in this debut novel by the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, only a wonderful story of family, relationships, and suspense. . . . Part English cozy, part family saga, part courtroom drama, this genre-bending work of fiction is touching and enchanting.” —Booklist (starred review)

“The book is fast-paced and crisply plotted, with Tolkien elegantly piecing together the different perspectives and introducing unexpected twists.” —Publishers Weekly

“Tolkien’s skill as a storyteller is worthy of notice in this taut, well-paced legal thriller. The excellent courtroom drama and well-drawn, believable characters make this a good choice. . . . With an easily recognizable surname, a formidable Oxford education, and a successful career as a London barrister, the grandson of the author of The Lord of the Rings is bound to create a stir with this debut novel.” —Library Journal

One summer night, two men break into an isolated manor house and kill Lady Anne Robinson. Her son, Thomas, convinces the police that his father’s beautiful personal assistant sent the killers, but Thomas is known for his overactive imagination, and he has reasons to lie.

Thomas’s father, Sir Peter Robinson, the British minister of defense, refuses to believe his son. Instead, he marries his assistant, Greta Grahame, and will be giving evidence for the defense at her trial. He will be the final witness.

Author Simon Tolkien successfully combines legal suspense and psychological tension in this sharply etched portrait of four people whose lives are changed by a murder. Alternating between the trial in London’s Central Criminal Court and private moments among the characters, Tolkien expertly describes the art of the trial, the clash between Britain’s social classes, and, most notably, the complexity of family relations.

Who is telling the truth—the new wife or the bereaved son? What will Sir Peter tell the court? With tantalizing ambiguity, Tolkien keeps readers guessing about the true motivations of these characters until the final witness.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Simon Tolkien

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Simon Tolkien was a successful barrister in London, specializing in criminal justice, before moving to California with his wife and two children.  His first novel, Final Witness, was published in 2002 to widespread acclaim and his second, The Inheritance, received equally positive reviews when it came out in 2009. He is the grandson of J.R.R.Tolkien. Visit him online at
Published December 24, 2002 by Random House. 320 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Final Witness

Kirkus Reviews

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Thomas is obviously terrified, as the same men who killed Anne have already come back to the house once to kill him.

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Publishers Weekly

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As Tolkien spins his tale, he explores the tense relationship between Greta, formerly Sir Peter's personal assistant and a working-class Manchester girl, and the well-born Lady Anne.

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Entertainment Weekly

J.R.R.'s grandson has written a potboiler brimming with secret rooms, secret drawers, and secret marriages.

Jan 17 2003 | Read Full Review of Final Witness: A Novel

Reviewing the Evidence

Their, at the time, fourteen-year-old son witnessed his mother's murder by two intruders and will be the star witness for the prosecution side against his now stepmother, Greta Robinson (formerly Grahame).

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