By a combination of circumstances, a respectable High Court Judge is forced to receive winning tips on the races from a parson known to find winners by a foolproof system but who never backs them himself, because his son is a rogue who commits a variety of white-collar crimes to make money and is now in danger of being convicted if he cannot find enough money to pay his creditors.
Enter "The Painswick Line".
It's a fascinating and humourous tale of a High Court judge who finds that being a Judge is far from straightforward, and not just for the usual reasons. Henry Cecil's plots are fascinating because of the stamp of authenticity in his legal writing and so creates a combination of fantasy and legal fiction to spin a wonderful tale.
Cecil's deep knowledge of the legal system allows him to visualize plots and situations which would ordinarily never occur to the lay writer. The novel itself is not one coherent story by itself, but a series of episodes which are logically linked one after the other. However, the story does shift focus from the Judge himself to his son in the second half, when we witness the methods used by the ingenious, but criminal-minded Martin Painswick, to extract money from unwilling victims. Cecil also occasionally takes a dig at the absurd contradictions of the Law and also sometimes digresses into making general observations about it. But these are few and far between and don't generally break the flow of the novel.
In this novel, Cecil also shows how differently he can write. The mood is almost always light-hearted in this particular novel, but he has shown that he can write seriously as well. With such versatility with the pen and with such a knowledge of the Law as well, it is no doubt that he always produces fine works of legal fiction.