I am delighted to share with you my review of The Brief by Simon Michael.
Here’s the blurb …
Urbane Publications Limited (28 Sept. 2015)
In the 60s London of gangsters, prejudice and terrifying gang wars, Barrister Charles Holborne spends his life dealing with the worst examples of violent criminality. After successfully winning a number of high profile cases, he is building a reputation among Soho’s criminal classes as a man who gets the job done, a reputation that doesn’t endear him to his establishment colleagues.
Yet Charles is not all he seems, and is battling both personal demons and his own past. When his philandering wife Henrietta is found with her throat slashed, Charles finds himself on the wrong side of the law and in serious trouble of the murderous kind. Arrested for her murder, can Charles discover the truth of her brutal slaying and escape the hangman’s noose?
Based upon a real case and genuine court documents, The Brief is a compelling criminal drama, and an evocative slice of sleazy glamour from the Swinging Sixties. Simon Michael delivers an addictive read for any crime fan.
My thoughts …
A lawyer in the Kray era London, Charles Holborne grew up on a normal East End estate and had to fight to get to where he is in the legal system but once there, he never belies his roots making him a very likeable character. A lawyer for some of London’s murkiest characters, he is now the go-to-guy for the cities criminal underbelly.
Until he is arrested.
For murdering his wife.
I really enjoyed this book. Simon Michael uses real life court documents throughout this story, a method which I found absolutely fantastic! It is so clear in the writing that Michael has insider knowledge about how the legal system works, being a barrister himself he knows this system inside out and thankfully, he has been able to capture this knowledge and put it into the pages of a book in a way that comes across really well.
I don’t imagine for one second that just because someone knows a subject they are automatically able to write a novel about it but Michael has, and he has done it very well!
The first part of the book really builds up the atmosphere of the era and develops the characters, some you will love and some you will hate (I’m not telling you who’s who though!!) then towards the last third, the pace really picks up and the action starts to intensify.
The Brief is an intelligent, atmospheric and cleverly organised tale of crime, murder and corruption which will have you hooked from the start.
You can get your copy over at Amazon UK
About the author …
Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne. Simon writes from personal experience: he was a barrister for 37 years and worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy during what was often considered the “Wild West” of British justice. The 1960s was a time when the Krays and the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted the evidence and took their share of the criminal proceeds. Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.
Simon was a successful author in the 1980s, published here and in the USA, and returned to writing when he retired from the Bar in 2016. The first two books in the Charles Holborne series, THE BRIEF published in September 2015 and AN HONEST MAN published in July 2016, have both garnered rave reviews for their authenticity and excitement. The theme of Simon’s books is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the East End where he grew up and in the Temples of the law where he now practices, where he faces daily class and religious prejudice. He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honourable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.
The third book in the series, THE LIGHTERMAN, will be published in June 2017 and looks set to be another bestseller.
Simon lives with his wife and youngest child in Bedfordshire. He is a founder member of the Ampthill Literary Festival and a former trustee and chairman of the Road Victims Trust, a charity devoted to supporting those bereaved or suffering life changing injury on the roads.