Tag Archives: Legal Thriller

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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**Blog tour** #TH1RT3EN by Steve Cavanagh @SSCav @orion_crime @Lauren_BooksPR @Tr4cyF3nt0n #thatbookthathook

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for TH1RT3EN by Steve Cavanagh, which means I can finally share my review for this fabulous book.

Anyone who follows my blog may have noticed I have never read or reviewed  a book by Steve Cavanagh, it’s not because I haven’t  wanted to, in fact I have the first in the series sat on my TBR shelf, I’ve just never got around to reading them. So why jump in at the fourth book in a series? I’m hearing, in all honesty it was the tag line? THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL. HE’S ON THE JURY... I’m a sucker for a plot line with a serial killer, and going back a few years ago (pre-blogging) I used to read nothing BUT legal thrillers, could Steve Cavanagh make me fall in love with this genre once again? Read on for my thoughts……

Book description 

THE SERIAL KILLER ISN’T ON TRIAL.

HE’S ON THE JURY…

To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

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I loved, loved Thirteen, with an unique plot, fabulous characters and a thrilling storyline I was hooked from the word go. Despite it being the fourth book in the series it can be read as a standalone, but if you choose to read it first then like me I bet you buy the previous books in the series way before you reach the final page.  Although a legal thriller it has so many elements that make this book special, with more than an hint of crime and suspense mixed in, Steve Cavanagh has written one of the most original and exciting books I’ve read this year.  It’s not something I say very often but “If Thirteen doesn’t make it to the top sellers list I will be very surprised, in fact I would be astounded, it really is fabulously brilliant”.

What a fascinating character Eddie Flynn turned out be a conman turned lawyer, there were so many sides to him that made him a very engaging character, funny, charming with the gift of the gab. I’m now desperate to go back to the earlier books in the series to see how his character has evolved. Joshua Kane what an absolutely incredible character, smart, highly intelligent and a master manipulator, he made this book such a page turner. Steve Cavanagh has created characters that are engaging and fascinating, and for me that’s what made Thirteen such a brilliant read.

Thirteen was a page turner, the plot is tense and gripping, the author doesn’t give the reader time to draw breath as Thirteen reaches its thrilling conclusion. I loved every page of this well written legal thriller, no words or scenes are irrelevant, each character has their place. As for the court rooms scenes they were real “nail biters” as you really aren’t sure which way the jury are going to vote, which heightens the tension tenfold. This review maybe vague but I want it to be, Thirteen is a book you definitely need to read for yourself , my advice just BUY It I’m positive it won’t disappoint.

Steve Cavanagh has been compared to John Grisham (who by the way used to be one of my favourite authors) personally I think Steve Cavanagh’s writing is even better, it’s fresh, innovative and with an engaging protagonist I’m sure this series will go far. Would I recommend this book? You bet I would in fact if like me you’ve haven’t read any books in the series  just buy  the whole damn series as your in for a real treat.

This is going to come as no suprise but I’m giving Thirteen  the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reached the very last page.

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Buying links:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-serial-killer-isnt-trial-ebook/dp/B076PKVQJV

https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Steve-Cavanagh/dp/1409170667

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Books in the series

1. The Defence

2. The Plea

3. The Liar

4. Thirteen

The Cross an Eddie Flynn novella 

*Each Eddie Flynn thriller can be read as a standalone or in series order*

To learn more about Steve Cavanagh or buy books in the series click here

Click here for author info and to buy books in the series

Who is Steve Cavanagh?

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Steve Cavanagh is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and lawyer. He is also one half of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. His latest novel, Thirteen, is out in ebook now and paperback in June.

Find out more at www.stevecavanagh.com or follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

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A day with author William L. Myers. Jr @williammyersjr

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome  author William L.Myers. Jr to the book review café. The author writes legal thrillers which include A Legal Defense and An Engineered Injustice. Today he’s sharing a guest post about his day as an author.

WRITING WRONGS WHILE RIGHTING WRONGS

I like to say that, as a lawyer, I right wrongs, and as an author of legal thrillers, I write wrongs. Often, I do both at the same time, at my legal office. What I have found is that my fiction writing and legal work benefit each other. If I get stuck writing a legal brief, or on a tricky point of law, I’ll take a short break, work on whatever novel I’m writing at the time, spend a half hour plotting out a scene, or crafting a sequence of dialogue between my characters. What happens is that while I’m working on the fiction, my unconscious mind is still slogging away (and “slogging” is the right word; I think very slowly) on the legal brief or problem. So when I put the novel down, it’s not unusual that my brain has arrived at a solution to my legal issue. Conversely, it’s not infrequent for a lightbulb to go off over my head while I’m at work on one of my cases, illuminating the arrival of an insight for the novel I’m working on.

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I once heard an author (I don’t recall who) say that she did her best writing when she wasn’t writing. Meaning that for her, the best ideas often come when she’s not looking down at a computer screen or paper. This is often true for me as well. I begin every morning by taking my dogs—Pharaoh and Phoenix—for a two mile hike at Valley Forge Park. Invariably, some idea will pop into my mind, and I’ll stop in place, pull out my iPhone and send myself an email relating the idea—sometimes in great detail, to the chagrin of the dogs, who want to keep moving.

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There are good things and bad things about all this unconscious writing, of course. The good things include the fact that the resulting inspiration seems to show up for free, i.e., without my having to sweat and struggle over a line of dialogue or plot point. The bad things spring from the fact that the unconscious writing, rather than spring from the inside out, sometimes pulls me in the opposite direction—stealing my mind from my body in the midst of conversations, meetings, social events.

Not long ago, I was out to dinner with my wife Lisa and she was talking to me, but must’ve seen that familiar vacant look in my eyes.

“You’re not here, are you?” she said.

“Uh . . .”

“You’re in one of your books.”

“Uh . . .”

“At least tell me what’s happening?”

“Johnny Giacobetti just got shot outside the 76ers building at the Naval Yard.”

“I remember him from the train crash book. I didn’t like him. So I’m glad he’s shot.   

 Where’s the waiter. I need more wine.”

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William L. Myers, Jr. is a 2017 top 10 selling Amazon Kindle author for his debut novel. He might be new to the literary community but once you pick up his legal thriller and best-selling novel, A Criminal Defense, it becomes obvious he is not new to the intricacies of the legal profession. Open A Criminal Defense and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of deceits and hidden agendas, a world where everyone has a secret. You never know what is going to happen next or when the plot is going to take another unexpected turn.

His second book An Engineered was published in January 2018. You’ll really feel what it’s like to be a young attorney in the trenches, beating the streets, against all odds.
Born in 1958 into a blue-collar family, the author  inherited a work-ethic that propelled him through college and into the Ivy League at The University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

From there, William L. Myers, Jr started his legal career in a Philadelphia-based mega defense firm. After ten years defending corporate America, he realized his heart wasn’t in it. So, with his career on the fast track to success–he gave it all up and started his own firm. It was time to start fighting for the common guy.

That was twenty-five years ago and since then, he has focused on representing railroad employees and other honest, hard-working people who have been injured by others. He has represented thousands of clients in his tenure and has become a highly-regarded litigation attorney up and down the Eastern Seaboard

To learn more or buy this author’s books click on the link…. Authors books

 

My thanks to the author for his guest post and some of the featured images.

Unwrapping the #BookPost with the book review café

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Here I am again sharing some of the lovely #BookPost I’ve received over the last week. Some have come direct from the publishers but I’ve also included some of my, (ok lots) of my Birthday #BookPost that I personally bought for myself. 😂🙈

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

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Book description

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

My thanks to Orion Publishing for my ARC 

The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrére

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Book description

ON THE SATURDAY MORNING OF JANUARY 9, 1993, WHILE JEAN CLAUDE ROMAND WAS KILLING HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN, I WAS WITH MINE IN A PARENT-TEACHER MEETING…

With these chilling first words, acclaimed master of psychological suspense, Emmanuel Carrère, begins his exploration of the double life of a respectable doctor, eighteen years of lies, five murders, and the extremes to which ordinary people can go.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

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Book description

After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. There she finds Patience a changed woman, downtrodden by her domineering, vicious husband Joss Merlyn. The inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals, and Mary is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself.

Anything For Her by G.J.Minett

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Book description

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

My thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for my ARC  

Murderabilia by Craig Robertson

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Book description

The first commuter train of the morning slowly rumbles away from platform seven of Queen St station. And then, as the train emerges from a tunnel, the screaming starts. Hanging from the bridge ahead of them is a body. Placed neatly on the ground below him are the victim’s clothes. Why?

Detective Inspector Narey is assigned the case and then just as quickly taken off it again. Winter, now a journalist, must pursue the case for her. The line of questioning centres around the victim’s clothes – why leave them in full view? And what did the killer not leave, and where might it appear again?

Everyone has a hobby. Some people collect death. To find this evil, Narey must go on to the dark web, and into immense danger …

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

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Book description

Everyone has secrets. What if you can’t remember yours?

‘How long have you been sitting out here?’
‘I got here yesterday.’
‘Where did you come from?’
‘I have no idea.’

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

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Book description

What if a single 29 second phonecall could change your life forever? ‘Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear . . .’

When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

Blood Feud Anna Smith

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Book description

Kerry Casey thought she’d made a life away from the dirty dealings of her gangster family. Her father wanted to make them legit – her brother Mickey had other ideas, and now it’s got him killed. When Mickey’s funeral turns into a bloodbath at the hands of a group of anonymous shooters and Kerry’s mother is killed in the crossfire, Kerry finds herself at the head of the Casey family, and desperate for revenge.

Running a crime empire is not a job she ever asked for, and not one she wants, but Kerry is determined to fulfil her father’s wishes and make the Caseys go straight. First, though, she will find the men who murdered her mother, and she will take them down, no matter what it costs.

A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson

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Book description

When police are called to a murder scene in the Liverpool suburbs, even the most jaded officers are disturbed by what they find.

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

Hope To Die by David Jackson

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Book descrption

There was a hate in this killer. A thirst for obliteration rather than a mere desire to end a life . . .

A brutal murder takes place in the grounds of a Liverpool cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage. The victim: the last person you’d expect to be subjected to such terrible violence. Can DS Nathan Cody crack the case before another innocent is chosen?

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

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Book description

Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different.

It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie’s back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter, Amy. Eddie only has forty-eight hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial – and win – if he wants to save his daughter.

Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy’s safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

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Book description

When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to persuade him to testify against the firm.

Eddie is not someone who is easily coerced, but when the FBI reveal that they have incriminating files on his wife, he knows he has no choice.

But Eddie is convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the deal, Eddie must find a way to prove his client’s innocence.

But the stakes are high – his wife is in danger. And not just from the FBI . . .

The Liar by Steve Cavanagh

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Book description

When David Child, a major client of a corrupt New York law firm, is arrested for murder, the FBI ask con artist-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn to persuade him to testify against the firm.

Eddie is not someone who is easily coerced, but when the FBI reveal that they have incriminating files on his wife, he knows he has no choice.

But Eddie is convinced the man is innocent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. With the FBI putting pressure on him to secure the deal, Eddie must find a way to prove his client’s innocence.

But the stakes are high – his wife is in danger. And not just from the FBI . . .

That’s it for this week I’m really looking forward to reading all these books, my dilemma will be choosing which one to read first.  I’m off now to sit in the sunshine with a coffee and a book, and a delicious slice of birthday cake that my lovely hubby bought me.

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**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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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