Category Archives: Simon Michael

The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael #Extract #BlogTour @Simonmichaeluk @SapereBooks

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael blog tour.  This book is the fifth in the ‘Charles Holborne’ legal thriller series, set in London in the 1960’s.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to read the book, but I’m loving the book description and I’m hoping to read it in the not to distance future as I do enjoy a legal thriller. So in the meantime I have a very intriguing extract from the book, but first the book description…

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A deadly crime has been dragged to the surface…

London, 1965

Charles Holborne, maverick barrister, will never fit in at the Bar; he is too working-class, too Jewish and too dangerous.

But that makes him the perfect outsider to prosecute a shocking murder case which has already made its way to the press.

By chance, a body was found, dumped in a lake. It had clearly been there for some time, but the conditions in the water have meant that it was nearly perfectly preserved.

The police have managed to match this ‘waxwork corpse’ to a missing woman and if her husband — a senior judge — was the one who killed her, the scandal threatens to rock the British justice to its foundations.

The waxwork corpse is not the only thing to be raised from the past. The investigation also dredges up a violent mistake made by Charles in his youth which, if revealed, could put his own life at stake…

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Charles Holborne needs a big breakfast.

The previous night he stayed up until the small hours smoking and drinking whisky, staring at the silent, glistening city streets below him and ruminating about Sally; specifically about where she was sleeping. And with whom.

Months after their breakup and the sale of their house in Hampstead, he still thinks about her, most days and every night. The nights are the worst, alone in the tiny apartment on Fetter Lane.

So a plateful of bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toast are now absorbing the remnants of the alcohol, and Charles is starting to feel human.

Listening with half an ear to John Arlott commentating on the first few overs of the test match, he reads again the newspaper report of his beloved West Ham becoming only the second British club ever to win a European trophy. They defeated Munich 2 – 0 in the European Cup Winners Cup at Wembley the previous night, and Charles is still cross he missed it. But for the trial that he expected to continue throughout this week, he’d certainly have bought tickets.

He clears up and, a couple of hours later than usual, leaves the flat. He dodges the stationary traffic in the junction with Fleet Street and ducks under the stone arch into Sergeants Inn. It’s barely 100 yards from his front door to the Temple, which, in normal circumstances, allows him to wake at seven o’clock, wash, eat a leisurely breakfast and still be at his desk in Chambers before eight.

Charles, now thirty-nine, is as broad as an ox, with enormously wide shoulders, great hams for arms and heavily-muscled legs, and there is a healing cut over his left eyebrow. He looks like a boxer, which is what he is — or was, until his last fight, a few months ago at the relatively late age of thirty-eight. He therefore looks slightly incongruous in a barrister’s regulation pinstriped three-piece suit under a light raincoat and battered hat. Slung over his left shoulder, in a red cloth bag closed with a white cord drawstring, are his court robes, and in his right hand he carries a briefcase with the papers from the previous day’s case.

The barred gate at the northern end of Kings Bench Walk is manned today by a young official in uniform, the polished buttons of his Inner Temple uniform gleaming in the weak sunshine.

‘Good morning, Mr Holborne,’ he says. ‘Not seen you for a while.’

‘Hello Jimmy,’ replies Charles.

Charles has known the lad since he first started working in the Temple almost a decade before. He was then employed to direct parking and pick up litter, but despite his difficult start in life (Charles knows he was sent to Borstal for a string of domestic burglaries committed as a juvenile) his cheery disposition and willingness to work hard had seen him promoted gradually through the ranks of Temple employees. Now in his mid-twenties, he’s being given greater responsibility.

Inn servants such as Jimmy are largely invisible to Charles’s colleagues. Charles, on the other hand, feels more at ease with them than he does the majority of his public school, Oxbridge-educated peers. Most of the minor functionaries in the service of the Law, the employees of the Inn, the clerks and the court staff — in short the people essential to the smooth functioning of the administration of justice — know of Charles. They know that the curly-haired Charles Holborne, Barrister at Law, started life as Charlie Horowitz, boxer and, it was rumoured, criminal. His oldest friends and associates include the Krays and others on the wrong side of the law. He’s a Jewish East End lad who had an outstanding war and “made good”, and they have a sense of proprietorial pride in him; he’s still one of them.

The feeling is mutual. Although Charles has tried to put the Krays and his law-breaking firmly behind him, he likes to pass the time of day with good honest East Enders who share his background and with whom he doesn’t have to maintain the cultivated sophistication so carefully grafted onto his Cockney roots.

Charles steps down into the Temple, and as he does so a sudden squall of rain blowing off the Thames hits him square in the face. It carries the familiar aromas of his past life as a lighterman: sea salt and effluence. Taking care on the slippery cobbles, he runs underneath the tall plane trees, their newly-emerged leaves being given an unnecessary shower, and turns the corner into Crown Office Row.

A few seconds later he is bounding up the old staircase into Chambers, creating little puffs of wood dust where his heavy tread lands on every second stair.

This has been Charles’s professional home for two years; since he was forced out of his previous chambers; since the murder of his wife; a wife who was, rather inconveniently, the daughter of the former head of those chambers.

He pushes open the door to the clerks’ room to find it as frenetic as ever. Barbara, the senior clerk, Chambers’ own Edinburgh headmistress, is conducting two calls at the same time, one phone in her hand and the other clamped to the other ear by a tweed shoulder. She looks up from the lesson in good manners being delivered to an unhelpful listing clerk and nods her welcome to Charles. Jennie and Jeremy, the symbiotic junior clerks known throughout the Temple compendiously as “JJ”, hover by the door, each with an armful of briefs to be distributed around Chambers. The last member of staff, Clive — a spotty, insouciant Cockney teenager who fills the function of office junior — appears to be elsewhere.

Three barristers juggle for positions by the pigeon-holes, skimming the miscellaneous papers received on existing cases, but in fact more interested in discovering if there might be any buried fees cheques.

‘Morning,’ says one, a pot-bellied, almost spherical, junior barrister named Knight.

‘Morning, Oliver,’ replies Charles.

A tall man with his back to Charles turns swiftly. ‘Ah, there you are, Holborne,’ he says angrily, the use of Charles’s surname signifying both formality and condescension.

‘Yes, Murray,’ replies Charles blandly, scanning his own post without looking up, but deliberately using the taller man’s first name.

Murray Dennison, Queen’s Counsel, has been a long-term thorn in Charles’s side, particularly since Charles’s practice took off. Dennison, jealous and ambitious in equal measure, and whose elevation to silk had yet to prove an unqualified success, takes Charles’s recent professional ascendancy as a personal insult. His antipathy to Charles’s working-class background, his religion, his success — in short, everything about him — had grown swiftly from arrogant antipathy to outright hatred. There’s nothing more likely to make a man hate you than his being discovered trying to cause you harm, thinks Charles. It is only a few months since Charles uncovered, and survived, Dennison’s plot to have him evicted from Chambers.

‘I assume those … people in the waiting room are your clients?’ says Dennison.

‘Mine?’ enquires Charles reasonably, in no mood for a fight. ‘I’m not expecting any.’

‘Well, they’re your lot, and they’re taking all the space. I’ve important clients arriving in half an hour.’

‘My “lot”?’ queries Charles, knowing exactly what Dennison means.

He slips out of the clerks’ room and looks through the open door to the waiting room. Sitting silently and uncomfortably on the couch and two of the chairs are four bearded men in dark suits and white shirts, all wearing skull-caps. They are unmistakeably orthodox Jews. Charles smiles and nods before withdrawing and returning to the clerks’ room.

‘Not my case; not my clients,’ he says shortly, making a final effort to avoid a confrontation.

‘Aren’t they Jews?’ says the taller man, narrowing his eyes and jutting his grey lantern jaw at Charles aggressively.

‘And because they’re Jews, they must be my clients?’ demands Charles, his temper slipping.

‘It’s not an unreasonable assumption.’

‘Accordingly, I should assume that, because you defended those two homosexuals last week, you must also be a sodomist?’ he replies with a dangerous smile. Charles knows this will provoke Dennison, a Catholic with traditional views on homosexuality.

‘Now, now, sir,’ intervenes Barbara, now off both telephone calls, ‘let’s not wind up Mr Dennison.’

Dennison approaches Charles threateningly, almost nose to nose. ‘I’ve just about had enough of you, barrow boy.’

Charles tugs his forelock and deliberately exaggerates his native Cockney accent. ‘Oh, guvnor, I’m ever so sorry if I forgot me place.’

That produces a suppressed snigger from Jeremy which serves only to increase Dennison’s fury, but before the QC can answer, Charles has switched to a thick Yiddish accent. ‘On the other hand, perhaps it’s because I’m one of the Chosen People?’

Dennison points his bony forefinger at Charles, grasping for an appropriate retort but apparently unable at that instant to decide which prejudice to pursue. He splutters for a moment, changes his mind and strides out of the room. Charles follows him to the door and calls down the corridor after him. ‘I’m so sorry you weren’t chosen, Murray.’

Dennison spins on his heel. ‘Why don’t you people go back where you came from?’

‘This is where I came from!’ shouts Charles back. ‘I can trace my English roots to 1492, Dennison. Can you?’ Charles turns to Barbara with a triumphant smile but finds her face stony.

‘You’re your own worst enemy, Mr Holborne,’ she says, shaking her head sadly.

‘Yes,’ replies Charles heavily. ‘So I’ve been told.’

‘What’re you staring at?’ Barbara says, turning on Jeremy, still by the door. ‘Go on, scoot!’ The young clerk scuttles out of the room. ‘And in case it improves your mood, sir,’ says Barbara to Charles sardonically, ‘I’ve just put a nice cheque in your pigeon-hole.’

‘Have you?’

‘That case from Fletchers, the two-handed rape at Aylesbury.’

‘Oh yes.’

‘They’ve cut you down, but not by much. Have a look at the breakdown and let me know if you want to appeal.’

Charles picks up the cheque and the other papers waiting for him and makes to leave the room.

‘Oh, by the way, sir,’ adds Barbara, ‘Clive took a call for you from a Mr Jones.’

‘Yes?’

‘Mr Jones was rather mysterious. He announced that he was new to the Met police prosecuting service and asked if you’d passed the Scotland Yard Test.’

‘And you told him that I had?’ Charles asks.

The “Scotland Yard Test” is essentially a list of barristers deemed fit to prosecute cases on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. Charles has now been instructed in several high-profile murder trials for the Crown, so it’s surprising the caller was unaware that he’s considered acceptable counsel.

‘Of course. I asked him if he had instructions for you but he seemed evasive; said he was very anxious to speak to you. Immediately. When I said you weren’t in yet, he refused to leave a number and said he’d call back at noon. He asked particularly that you’d be available to take his call.’

‘If he’s employed by the Met prosecuting service, why on earth didn’t he ask one of his colleagues if I was on the list?’

‘That’s what I thought. I did wonder if it wasn’t some sort of practical joke. And…’

‘And?’

‘Well, he sounded strange.’

‘Strange?’

Barbara shrugs and her smile has a trace of embarrassment. ‘He sounded like Bugs Bunny!’

Charles laughs. ‘Are you sure the call didn’t come from inside Chambers? This sounds like one of the junior barristers pulling your leg.’

Barbara pauses, thinking. ‘You know, I never thought of that. Maybe that’s all it was. No doubt we’ll find out soon.’

Charles climbs the stairs to the first floor where his room is situated. It is empty. Peter Bateman, his former pupil, is at court, and the third occupant of the room, a recent addition, is also absent. Charles has yet to meet her, but she represents the welcome face of change: Roberta Gough is a pupil barrister, the first woman pupil to be taken on by the set of barristers in its 150-year history.

Charles makes himself a cup of tea in the area laughingly referred to as the “upstairs kitchen” — a converted cupboard — and takes it to his desk.

His room isn’t large, but it’s well-lit and comfortable, housing three battered leather armchairs and a small coffee table as well as two leather-inlaid desks loaded with briefs and Miss Gough’s small, and still empty, desk tucked into a corner behind the door. What makes the room special to Charles is its view over the manicured lawns of the Inner Temple and thence across the Embankment to the River Thames. On more than one occasion Charles has returned from court to find a temporarily unemployed member of Chambers relaxing in one of the chairs, feet up on Charles’s desk, idly surveying the river traffic and the lawyers strolling the gardens.

Charles begins by opening his post. At noon precisely, the telephone rings.

‘Mr Jones for you, sir,’ says Barbara, and Charles, who knows his senior clerk very well, detects suppressed mirth in her voice.

‘Charles Holborne?’ asks a clear high-pitched voice.

‘Yes,’ replies Charles. ‘How can I help you?’

‘Are you available this afternoon, Mr Holborne?’

Charles smiles in recognition of Barbara’s characterisation of the voice. It’s not Bugs Bunny, but it is unusually high-pitched and, oddly for a solicitor practising in the Metropolis, Charles detects a definite North American accent.

‘Available for what?’

‘A conference in a criminal matter.’

‘For the prosecution, I assume.’

‘That is correct.’

‘Certainly. What’s the name of the case?’

‘I am sorry, but I can’t tell you that at present,’ replies the solicitor officiously.

‘Oh,’ says Charles. ‘Why on earth not?’

‘You’ll understand when we meet. Just call it “In the Matter of a Possible Prosecution”.’

‘Very well,’ replies Charles, curbing his curiosity. ‘When can you let me see the papers?’

‘I won’t be sending you any case papers. You’ll be instructed by myself and two police officers.’ Then Jones’s formality slips slightly. ‘Sorry about the mystery, Mr Holborne, but you’ll understand when we speak in person. I assure you, this is no joke.’

‘Very well,’ repeats Charles. ‘What time would be convenient to you?’

‘Your clerk said two o’clock.’

‘Fine. I’ll see you then.’

‘Good. One last thing: the matter is to be mentioned to no one at all. Both you and your senior clerk will be asked to sign the Official Secrets Act before anything of substance is discussed. Goodbye.’

Charles almost laughs as he hangs up. He wonders again if the entire conversation is a hoax. He’s never heard of a barrister being required to sign the Official Secrets Act before being instructed in a case. The whole idea is bizarre. He looks forward to the meeting, if it occurs at all, with interest.

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Sapere Books (20 Dec. 2019)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

About the author

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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: a barrister for 37 years, he 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.  The 1960s was the Wild West of British justice, a time when the Krays, the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted evidence and took a share of the criminal proceeds.  Simon weaves into his thrillers real events of the time, the cases on which he worked and his unusual family history in the East End.

Simon was published here and in America in the 1980s and returned to writing when he retired from the law in 2016.  The Charles Holborne series, The Brief, An Honest Man, The Lighterman, Corrupted and the latest, The Waxwork Corpse, have all garnered strong reviews for their authenticity and excitement.

Books in the series

Follow the blog tour…..

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**Weekly Wrap Up**

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Where has the week gone? I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of days somewhere!! You will be glad to know I’ve managed to have an incident free week, and I’m back to work. I’m sure you are all eager to learn how many books I read this week so here goes…….. I managed to read Two books yaaay go me 😀

Books I read this week

ARC’s I received this week

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Book description

June 2007: a barbaric nail bomb is planted outside a London nightclub, a spy is found dead in his garden, and a blazing Jeep is driven into Glasgow airport. Three events bound by an earth-shattering connection that should have remained buried forever.

From the author of the The Theseus Paradox, the smash-hit 7/7 thriller based on true events, comes the sequel about a real-life mystery that threatens to destroy a nation. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan must uncover how a series of astonishing events are inextricably linked, before the past closes in on him.

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Book description

BLOOD DAUGHTER sees the Miller sisters’ loyalties put to the ultimate test in a gripping thriller, perfect for fans of Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller.

They say blood is thicker than water.
That’s not going to stop it being spilled.

Life hasn’t been easy for the Miller family. Finally, mum Babs has had one bit of luck. She plans to share the profits with her daughters. She thought they’d be pleased…

But money always causes trouble, especially when it’s desperately needed. Jen wants to make a better life for her kids. Tiff owes a lot of bad men a lot of money. And Dee is worried that her husband is getting back into the criminal life.

As the sisters fall out, a gold bullion heist brings more opportunities – and many more dangers. None of them are giving up without a fight…

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Book description

The thriller with the twists you’ll never see coming! Perfect for fans of The Girl in the Ice and The Missing Ones.

WHEN HE FOUND HIS LITTLE BOY, NICK THOUGHT THE NIGHTMARE WAS OVER . . . IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

One rainy morning, just after Nick drops off his young son Gabriel outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won’t surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate. When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and spots something odd about the picture – Gabriel in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger. Nick needs to know what happened to his boy, but losing Gabriel turns out to be far less terrible than the shock of finding him. Now, to discover the truth, he must relive the nightmare all over again…Be warned, this is not another missing child story: what happened to Nick and his son is far more shocking.

I’ve still managed to keep to my book buying ban,  as I’m still struggling to get my NetGalley pile down to a reasonable level, see I do have some will power 😂😂

Books I’m hoping to read this week

Only 1 Book in the post this week and my fabulous prize from Jen over at https://jenmedsbookreviews.com/

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Book description

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them

Last week on the book review café

#TopFiveThurday with #BookBlogger Kate aka TheQuietKnitter @murronsmama | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/06/08/topfivethurday-with-bookblogger-kate-aka-thequietknitter-murronsmama/

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips #BookReview @GinPhillips17 @TransworldBooks @alisonbarrow #Giveaway | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/06/07/fierce-kingdom-by-gin-phillips-bookreview-ginphillips17-transworldbooks-alisonbarrow-giveaway/

The Fourth Monkey by J.D.Barker @jdbarker #Bookreview #4MK | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/06/05/the-fourth-monkey-by-j-d-barker-jdbarker-bookreview-4mk/

Next week on the book review café

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards #BookReview

Each Little Lie by Tom bale #BookReview

Good Girl Gone by KT Finch #MiniReview

#TopFiveThursday with yet another awesome blogger

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And on a final note congratulations to all the awesome book bloggers who won in yesterday’s Annual Blogger Awards, so thrilled for you all 😘😘 you can find a list of all the winners here……http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/06/10/winners-of-the-2017-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-bloggersbash-bloggersbash/

 

 

 

 

**Blog Tour** The Lighterman by Simon Michael #AuthorInterview @simonmichaeluk @urbanebooks #Giveaway

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I’m delighted to have been invited to take part in Simon Michael’s blog tour to celebrate the launch of The Lighterman, the third in his series of 1960s London thrillers featuring barrister antihero Charles Holborne. The Lighterman is published by Urbane Books and was released on the 8th June 2017. 

Matthew over at Urbane Books has kindly given me a paperback copy of The Lighterman as a giveaway, you will find the details on how to enter at the bottom of this post.

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imageThe first two novels in your series, The Brief and An Honest Man, both take place over the space of a few weeks in the early 1960s, but in The Lighterman you go back in time even further, to the 1940s. Why did you do that? Did you always intend to write historical thrillers?

As the series has progressed I have come to know Charles much better. Although when I wrote The Brief I knew he was an East End boy made good and he had been in a bit of trouble with the law in his past, as the series progressed what was a line drawing filled out to become a more three-dimensional portrait in my head. I began to understand his family dynamics better, his psychology, his hang-ups. There’s a major reveal coming in Book 4, and I wanted my readers to understand and believe in it. That entails revealing some of what happened to Charles as a teenager, which takes us back to 1940 and the Blitz. I also have a deeper understanding of how plot and character grow out of the fertile soil of place and history. People have commented that London has become an integral part of the stories; I would go further: I think London is a character in the series in its own right.
So, to answer your question simply, in one sense all stories are “historical” in that all characters have a background and past which dictate how they act in the present. If you want to create real characters, they can’t just arrive on the page in the present moment.

For someone who has his own particular moral code, Charles does a lot of lawbreaking in The Lighterman! Aren’t you worried that some of your readers will dislike him?

The reviews seem to suggest that the aspect of the series which appeals most to readers is Charles’s personality. My favourite, from one woman reviewer, is that she thinks she is “a little bit in love with Charles Holborne”. So I realise it’s very important not to make Charles dislikeable. At the same time, it’s his flaws that make him interesting. He went through the War, lived rough on the Blitzed streets, and grew up in an era when women with careers were oddities, men were expected to be the breadwinners and they weren’t supposed to speak about “feelings”. On top of that Charles has been damaged, and he carries that damage into his relationships with women. But as long as the reader sees that he is trying to overcome his deficiencies, that he’s essentially “a good guy” – even one who makes mistakes – I think (hope!) readers will see him as a complete person. As for his lawbreaking, he does it to save lives and to protect the innocent from the machinations of corrupt and venal men with power. I think most readers will forgive that.

You have mentioned Book 4. How many more are there to be in the series?

Charles is involved in a long-running battle with the Kray twins. They didn’t go to prison until 1968 and left a legacy that lasted some years after that. So I have at least a further five years to cover, and the undermining of The Establishment which occurred during the late 60s is a fascinating period in its own right. Books 4 and 5 are part-written. My guess is that there are at least another four books to come, but we shall see.

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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.

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Links: Website   Blog     Facebook     Twitter    Goodreads    Amazon Author Page

Book Trailer Facebook 

 

Book description

The Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne. Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne.

When Charles Holborne’s cousin, Izzy, is accused of murder, Charles must dig up the secrets of the past to defend him. But brutal gangland leader Ronnie Kray will stop at nothing to get his revenge on Charles for the events of An Honest Man. Can Charles save his cousin…and his own life?

Simon Michael brings the past vividly back to life across a beautifully rendered 60s landscape, and delivers a gripping piece of thriller fiction that will excite any fan of the Britcrime genre.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

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I have one paperback copy of The Lighterman by Simon Michael, unfortunately this is open to UK residents only. Winner will be notified within 24 hours of winning. To enter just leave a comment in the post telling me which era you would loved to have been part of?

All entries will be put into a hat and I will get the ever suffering Mr book review cafe to pick a winner.

You can follow the rest of the tour…..

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**Weekly Wrap Up**

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I have surpassed myself this week are you ready? I read five, yes you read that right! Five whole full length books and just started on my sixth! This isn’t because I’ve finally found a pattern to fit in reading between work, I actually had an accident don’t panic I’m still in one piece just about!

I bought myself a lovely pair of wedges to wear out last Saturday night and all was well until I walked home twisted my foot in the bloody things and went down like a sack of spuds, apart from a bloody finger and a huge bruise on my foot and ankle I was fine, well until I got up the next morning in agony my neck went into spasm and has been ever since! Consequently I haven’t been able to work (no work no pay 😢) or do anything apart from read (always a silver lining I guess😂😂), mind you the meds I’m taking also make me really sleepy otherwise I would probably have read another book or two!

The moral of the story?  I need to wear flat shoes at all time for my own safety, anyone looking for a pair of gorgeous pink wedges? Free to a good home 😂😂

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Books I read this week

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

The Lucky ones by Mark Edwards

The Serial Killer’s Daughter but Lesley Welsh

The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker

ARC’s I received this week

Two! I’m keeping well away from NetGalley at the moment as promised in last weeks post, but I did request Karin Slaughter’s new book The Good Daughter ages ago and finally got accepted (so that doesn’t count😂🙈).

I also got sent an ARC of Shadows by Conrad Jones, after reading Brick which I loved there was no way I could ignore this one

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Book description

Suicide. Drugs. Murder.

DI Braddick is put on the case when a hijacked drug deal has resulted in murder and an eye witness goes missing. When victims are discovered strung up from the rafters of an abandoned fish factory, on the Anglesey coastline, the police are baffled as to what went on. A deserted trawler found at the scene helps Braddick put the pieces together.

Could this be the work of a notorious Russian crime family?

When an undercover officer goes missing everything points to an informer for the family and it is clear they will stop at nothing to the silence the leak and have their revenge.

As the body count rises Braddick will come to realise that no one is safe…

I’ve also still got my Amazon voucher but I’ve kept to my word and not bought any books yet! Although four of the books I read are from my NetGalley reads so I am  slowly getting there!

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Book description

The stunning new standalone, with a chilling edge of psychological suspense, from the No. 1 bestelling author of the Will Trent and Grant County series.

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever …

Book Post

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The Friend by Dorothy Koomson

Book description

What secret would you kill to keep?
After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret. Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.

Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life. That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

The publishers kindly sent me a hardback copy of this book to #Giveaway. So keep your eyes peeled as I will running a little competition soon.

I also received a letter from the author which will be sent with book. The letter is printed on seeded paper, you put the paper in a pot with compost and watch the flowers grow🌻🌺🌸💐🌷 how cool is that? and will be included with the book.

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Books I’m hoping to read this week

Last week on the book review café

What a busy week I had last week on my blog, and here’s a round up just in case you missed anything

**Blog Tour** Vile City by Jennifer Lee Thomson #AuthorQ&A
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/06/02/blog-tour-vile-city-by-jennifer-lee-thomson-authorqa-jenthom72-caffeinenights-tastpublicity/

**My Book Of The Month** May 2017 | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/06/01/my-book-of-the-month-may-2017/

**Blog Tour** #BeMyKiller by Richard Parker #BookReview @Bookouture @Bookwalter | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/31/blog-tour-bemykiller-by-richard-parker-bookreview-bookouture-bookwalter/

**Blog Tour** Body Breaker by Mike Craven #BookReview @caffeinenights @MWCravenUK | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/30/blog-tour-body-breaker-by-mike-craven-bookreview-caffeinenights-mwcravenuk/

Brick by Conrad Jones #BookReview @bloodhoundbooks @ConradJones | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/29/brick-by-conrad-jones-bookreview-bloodhoundbooks-conradjones/

Next week on the book review café

**Blog tour** The Lighterman by Simon Michael author interview

Fierce City by Gin Phillips #Review

The Fourth Monkey by J. D. Barker #Review

#TopFiveThursday is  back with yet another awesome book blogger

I will be running a couple of #Giveaways next week as the for the following…..

A paperback copy of The Lighterman by Simon Michael 

A Paperback copy of a Fierce Kingdom 

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Other news from the book review café

I’m not sure how long it’s been sat there as I don’t tend to look at my dashboard page on NetGalley I’m usually to busy salivating at all the wonderful books on there,  but some how or other I managed to get my Top Reviewer badge which made my day.

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I’m so pleased I’ve cut back on the blog tours I’ve actually turned down so many this week, even though they were for really fantastic books. It’s such a brilliant feeling to be able to pick and choose my own books with no time constraints.

 

 

 

**Weekly Wrap Up**

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Yessssssss! I’m on a roll I managed to read another two books this week, I feel like I should be celebrating 🎉🍾🍹🎉 I’m sure at some point I will hit a reading slump,  but I’m happy with two books per week for now. I even managed a two day social media ban which certainly helps with the reading.

Books I’ve read this week

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, I absolutely loved this book but unfortunately I’m having to save my review for the blog tour, you can read my review on Monday June 26th

ARC’s I received this week

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Book description

Dean Hudson didn’t look evil…so what could drive an ordinary boy to kill?

When the teenage son of Holly Gold’s school friend brutally murders his parents before killing himself, her sleepy home town is rocked by the sudden tragedy.

Appalled, Holly investigates. What could have caused the happy-go-lucky boy she remembers to commit such a heinous crime? When another teen commits suicide, she uncovers a horrifying link between the recent deaths and a dark conspiracy to hide the truth.

But someone doesn’t want Holly asking questions and, as she hunts for evidence to prove her theory, she’s dragged into a nightmare that threatens her life and her sanity. Then tragedy strikes again—and this time it’s closer to home…

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Book description

Lighterman is the third book in the bestselling series of legal thrillers starring barrister Charles Holborne. Simon Michael’s follow up to the bestselling The Brief and An Honest Man, continues the adventures of criminal barrister Charles Holborne. The Lighterman provides more of Charles’ personal history, dating back to the war years when he worked on the River Thames with his cousin Izzy. Gangland leader Ronnie Kray is not a man to forgive or forget. Holborne has “taken liberties” and revenge will follow. But how to get at a tough and resourceful Brief with his own history of criminality and a penchant for violence? The answer: find a man who can’t be hanged twice. Now Holborne must dig up the secrets of the past to save two lives…one of them his own.Simon Michael brings the past vividly back to life across a beautifully rendered 60s landscape.

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Book description

Those closest to you don’t stab you in the back. Do they?

Jimmy Byrne is one of the biggest faces on the Soho scene. Equally feared and respected, he’s clawed his way to the top. Money is his game, and he’ll make it by any means necessary.

When Jimmy sets his sights on shy young Colleen Walsh, she is quickly seduced by his sweet words and the life of luxury he offers her. But behind the diamonds and fur coats lies the reality of gangland violence – and by the time she realises the truth, she’s already in too deep.

Like her father, Jimmy Byrne, Nancy Byrne is strong, opinionated – and ruthless. But when Jimmy is murdered. Nancy vows to find the killer and make them pay for their actions.

Only the perpetrator is someone close to home. Someone she trusted. Someone who betrayed them all.

Blood is thicker than water – but Nancy is not afraid to spill some to get the truth.

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Book description

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

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Book description

One split second can destroy your life forever

Single mother Jen Cornish is just trying to hold things together for the sake of her seven-year-old son Charlie. Until the day when she does an impulsive good deed to help a neighbour, setting off a terrifying chain of events that quickly spirals out of control…

When she is arrested for a crime she didn’t commit, Jen quickly starts to wonder if someone is playing a cruel game with her – or is she losing her mind?

Desperate to clear her name with the police, she must first untangle a chilling web of lies. But someone is watching her every move – and it isn’t just Jen who is in danger.

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My ever suffering (well he’s got to be for putting up with me for all these years 😂🙈) hubby surprised me with an Amazon voucher and do you know what? I haven’t bought one book shock! Horror! Only because I happened to check my Netgalley account and realised I may just have a small amount of books to be read on there cough! Cough! I was shocked to see I have 20 (Make than 21 as I’ve just added Tom Bale) books to read 🙈📚📚📚

So despite my hubbys very generous gift I’m going to save my voucher until I’ve read at least half of them (or that’s my objective, watch this space) and in case you were wondering I’m down to 77% on NetGalley shocking!

Last week on the book review café

#TopFiveThursday with #BookBlogger Donna aka Chocolatenwaffles | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/25/topfivethursday-with-bookblogger-donna-aka-chocolatenwaffles/

**Blog tour** Reconciliation For The Dead Paul E. Hardisty @orendabooks @Hardisty_Paul | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/23/blog-tour-reconciliation-for-the-dead-paul-e-hardisty-orendabooks-hardisty_paul/

He Said She Said by Erin Kelly #BookReview | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/05/22/he-said-she-said-by-erin-kelly-bookreview/

Next week on the book review café

Five fabulous blog tours this week,……..

**Blog tour** Brick by Conrad Jones #Review

**Blog tour** Body Breaker by Mike Craven #Review

**Blog Tour** Be My Killer by Richard Parker #Review

**Blog Tour** Vile City by Jennifer Thomson #Author Q & A

My Book Of The Month

**Blog Tour** Secrets Of The Dead by Carol Wyer #Review

Due to it being such a busy week on the book review café  #TopFiveThursday will be postponed for a week

Author Interview with Simon Michael #Author of The Brief and An Honest Man

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Simon Michael the author of The Brief and An Honest Man. Unfortunately  my review pile is in danger of toppling over, it’s that big! So I haven’t had the chance to read either of them, but from the book descriptions they certainly sound like the type of books I would enjoy, so rest assured they will certainly be added to my ever growing TBR pile. In the meantime here’s my interview with Simon Michael, and if the interview piques your interest I’ve included the buying links further down the post

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Hi Simon and welcome to the book review café, there’s a lot of crime thrillers out there. Why should readers read your Charles Holborne series?

Wow – talk about getting right to the point! That’s a bit like a boxer landing a great punch as soon as the bell’s gone for the first round. I think I’ve discovered a new genre of crime writing – the barrister procedural. There are hundreds of authors writing police procedurals and psychological thrillers, but those elements have never been tackled from the point of view of further down the criminal justice line, in court. The search for the truth by the police is not the end of the story – in fact it’s only the beginning. The real search for truth occurs in court and, as for psychological thrills, anyone who’s ever been in a criminal court room – especially on serious cases like murder – knows it’s pure theatre – nail-biting, breath-holding drama. For a recent example, just look at Helen’s trial in the Archers.

Are the books courtroom dramas then?

Every book has scenes in court, but they take up a relatively small part of the action. The rules regarding evidence in the period I’m writing, the 1960s, were much more lax than they are today. The investigation process often continued after the accused was charged. I take the readers along for the ride, as the lawyers and the police put together the jigsaw of the case to present it to the jury. I use parts of real cases and sometimes real documents normally only seen by the police, the lawyers and the judges.

Is that why you date your books in the 1960s?

Partly. In many respects the 1960s were the “Wild West” in criminal justice, especially in the big cities like London, Birmingham and Liverpool. Huge swathes of the police force were completely corrupt; they took bribes, worked hand-in-hand with criminals, and suppressed and manufactured evidence. The Dirty Squad (the name by which the Obscene Publications Squad was known) was, to a man, in the pay of the Soho pornographers, right up to the detective chief superintendent at its head. They actually negotiated a licence fee from the pornographers, the very people they should have been shutting down, to allow them to keep operating. And some of my clients were beaten into confessions or threatened that their children would be taken into care, to keep the truth from coming out. On the other hand, big gangs like the Krays and Richardsons controlled the streets with terrifying violence. London was beginning to look like Chicago in the 1930s, with an unholy alliance between organised crime bosses and the police.
So placing my hero, Charles Holborne, in London in the 1960s presents him with challenges which don’t exist today. Make him morally ambivalent – he grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the East End, was a boxer and was himself in trouble with the law as a youngster – and the dynamic becomes even more interesting. Add in the racial, religious and class prejudice that existed in those days, the post-war liberalisation in social mores – sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – and you have a perfect mix.

Does that give you problems with research? I know you were a barrister for a long time, but I don’t think you’re old enough to have been in practice in the 1960s.

No, you’re right, although I was alive at the time, I was still in short trousers! Things were beginning to change when I started at the Bar, but not by much. So some of the background comes easily. I know exactly what the cells of the Old Bailey smell like; I remember how shabby the court buildings were; I have personal experience of corrupt police officers manufacturing evidence against my clients; and I experienced prejudice myself in the early days of my career. But I do have to take great care to ensure that other facts are right. The series seems to appeal to a lot of younger readers but a good part of the readership are old police officers and lawyers like me! And they’re the first to send an email saying “I loved the book, but they didn’t build that court building till five years after that scene!”

Having read some of the reviews, people seem to like Charles Holborne’s character, but several female reviewers want to give him a proper slap!

Yes, he is a bit of a dinosaur, a man of his times. I’m aware of the risk that if Charles were to be portrayed as a typical man born in 1925 he’d probably be quite unlikeable. It was a time of casual prejudice, not least against women. I think the trick is to write strong other characters, like the women in Charles’s life, who can pull him up so he can learn and grow. I hope readers will see changes in his attitude as the books progress.

I note that you spend more time dealing with your characters’ private lives than some other crime thriller writers.

I think that’s true. I’m afraid I’m a little impatient with some of the protagonists in crime thrillers. Some writers think that by throwing in a problem with alcohol, a divorce, a prickly relationship with a superior officer, they create a real protagonist. I think people are very complex and even those trying to do their best make mistakes in their relationships. Everyone’s a mixture of good and bad, so I try to show that. I deliberately intertwine the main threads of the crime thriller with the investigation, the court case and the problems facing the people involved. They all have their private lives and they bring those into their daily work. I try to create extremely stressful and difficult circumstances impacting on real people, and then see what those people do.

Are there more to come in the Charles Holborne series?

Definitely. The third and fourth are already part-written, and I know where the series will end.
So there will be a finite number of Charles Holborne books?
I think so. That’s real life, isn’t it? People grow and change and I see a definite arc of development for Charles with a conclusion. I don’t want the stories or the characters to become repetitive.
And then?
Well, I do have some ideas. In particular I am roughing out a stand-alone thriller set in New Orleans. But that’s at least three further novels down the line!

You’ve had two books published in the last year, and you have two more part-written? What explains this sudden burst of creativity?

I’ve only been able to do what I really love for the last 18 months or so, and full-time since March. Practice at the Bar is all-consuming and I frequently worked 16 hour days, 7 days a week. I have finally taken the plunge, given up the law and started doing what I always wanted to do. It’s been bottled up a long time!

Thank you Simon for popping by the book review for a chat and I wish you all the best for both books 

About Simon Michael

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Simon practised as a barrister for over 35 years, many of them spent prosecuting and defending murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy. He had several books published in the UK and the USA in the 1990s and his short story Split was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan/Perrier Short Story Award.

In 2016 he retired completely from legal practice to devote himself to full- time writing. The Brief (September 2015) and An Honest Man (July 2016) published by Urbane Publications are the first two books in the Charles Holborne series, set on the gangland streets of 1960s London, and are based upon his experiences. Simon is a founder member and co-chair of the Ampthill Literary Festival. He lives with his wife, youngest daughter and many unfulfilled ambitions in Bedfordshire.

imageDescription of The Brief

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?

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Description of An Honest Man

Criminal barrister Charles Holborne may have just escaped the hangman by proving he was framed for murder, but his life is now in ruins. His wife is dead, his high-flying career has morphed into criminal notoriety, and bankruptcy threatens. When the biggest brief of Charles’s career unexpectedly lands on his desk, it looks as if he has been thrown a lifeline.
But far from keeping him afloat, it drags him ever deeper into the shadowy underworld of 1960s London. Now, not only is his practice at stake, but his very life. Can Charles extricate himself from a chess game played from the shadows by corrupt police officers and warring gangs without once again turning to crime himself?

Links: The Brief Amazon UK     An Honest Man Amazon UK

Author Page     Website and blogs     Facebook     Twitter

Email author@simonmichael.uk