Boozers, Ballcocks & Bail

About The Book | Gervase Phinn Intro | Reviews | Sample Chapters


About The Book

When Steve and his partner Wilf set up their legal practice, they aren’t expecting the high life – 1980’s Rotherham Magistrates Court is no Old Bailey.  But they aren’t expecting quite such wierd and wonderful lowlifes, either…

Boozers, Ballcocks & Bail is the first of larger-than-life criminal lawyer Steve Smith’s comic series.  He recounts with gusto his sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic and sometimes plain bizarre experiences both in and outside the criminal justice system, and the colourful characters he meets along the way.  From incurably larcenous but oddly likeable Jack Heptenstall to high-class hooker Suzi Deville and the Bird Man of Rotherham – not to mention Spider, Pagey and an incontinent chimpanzee – Steve depicts human nature in all its variety.


Gervase Phinn Introduction

There are certain people who have added immeasurably to the quality of my life: loving parents, my wife Christine and my four children, teachers with shining eyes, my editor at Penguin, and many more.  And then there are writers like Steve Smith, who has delighted and entertained me with his stories of life as a criminal lawyer in a northern industrial town.

At a time when the publishing world is flooded with misery memoirs, it is refreshing to find books which lift the spirit and make the reader laugh out loud.  And it is important to have books which make us laugh out loud, for laughter, the psychologists tell us, is good for us; increases our immunity to illness, improves sleep and enhances our lives.  Steve Smith’s books certainly do.

These aren’t merely collections of funny tales: there is depth and quality to the writing.  Here is an author who had blended hilarious anecdote with the most poignant and sometimes quite heart-rending descriptions of life on the wrong side of the law.  He has peopled his vividly realised books with a rich tapestry of compelling characters – the incompetent, the foolish, the pathetic, the cruel, the vulnerable and the downright bizarre – all of whom are brought to life in richly comic and sometimes tragic situations.

Gervase Phinn



‘In the tradition of James Herriot and countless other writers who have celebrated human values over gimmicky plotlines, this book shines with humour and warmth.

The idiosyncratic clients that Steve encounters during his travails in the criminal justice system, and the humanity with which he records his experiences, makes for a charming – not to mention hilarious – ready.’
– Good Book Guide, October 2006 (page 44)

‘The Rotherham Rumpole’
– The Times

‘The legal James Herriot’
– Yorkshire Post


From Readers

‘Just finished reading your book you so kindly signed for me.  I could not put it down!  The dark circles under my eyes are your fault!  What a splendid, funny at times sad, well balanced read.

Please drop everything and put one of your collections of pens to paper, and give us MORE!  Many thanks.’

– Paul Hunter, Barnsley

‘We are two middle-aged (ouch!) women from America.  I read your book on the flight back home and finished it within a couple of days.  It was loads of fun.  I became fond of you, your friends, and even your clients.  Good work.  I will pass it on to all of our lawyer friends.  I wish you great success with your book.’

– Barbara Guzzo, Ohio

‘I heard you on Radio 4, and decided to go out and buy the book, I read the whole book in 1 day.  What a joy to read, truth is stranger than fiction.  I am recommending this book to my friends, and I am constantly reading it and going back to it.  Its USP is for me a great pick me up, better than any therapy, and the laughter works.  Many thanks for a great read!!’

– Bill McAllister-Lovatt, Chesterfield

Online Reviews

Times Online

Review by John Cooper, The Times


Grumpy Old Bookman

Review by Michael Allen


For further reviews… (See Amazon)

Sample Chapters


Download this file



Radio 4 Interview with Shane O’Conner

1. Radio Derby Interview     

2. Radio Shropshire Interview with Clare Ashford Pt1     

3. Radio Shropshire Interview with Clare Ashford Pt2