FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
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. 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.
When 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 genre.
“The third in Simon Michael’s Charles Holborne (né Horowitz) series is the best yet. Michael was/is a barrister and well observed insights into the English legal system are a staple of the series. This one has a trial for capital murder as its centrepiece, which also illustrates in deadly detail how profoundly corrupt and corrupting our police, judiciary and prison service used to be. Lest we console ourselves that things must have greatly improved, it also shows how the building blocks of that corruption were institutional solidarity even with uniformed criminals, Freemasonry and judges who freely indulged their personal and class prejudices. These blocks, of course, are still in place and some would argue that corruption has merely altered its configuration: for the Kray brothers read the Russian mob, for instance.
‘The Lighterman’ also evokes London was it was in the 1960s with great skill: the dull, crushed conformity and hopelessness of the post-war years giving way to the false dawn of the sexual revolution, Beatlemania and so on, only to be crushed again by a ruling party that looked to the Soviet Union for inspiration. The vivid opening reminds us what a horrific beating an East End criminally lacking in air raid shelters took during the Blitz, and the rest of the story is coloured by the explosion of criminality among unsupervised young men during the war years. Not least it reminds us that London was once a thriving, bustling port, the greatest trading city the world had ever seen.
Finally there is the character development of Charles Holborne, extremely intelligent and physically magnificent but psychologically crippled by a loveless, emotionally extortionate mother, and by the alienation of one who has successfully broken free from a suffocating culture but has left his soul in bondage. He is heroic but not entirely likeable, polished but flawed: a character in the round such as you seldom find in thrillers, still less in police and judicial procedurals.
All in all a triumph: highly recommended.”
Hugh Bicheno – author
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