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
“…An Honest Man drops you into the murky depths of gangland London when the Krays and Richardsons were in their prime. The criminal trial at the Old Bailey is gripping and utterly compelling, as well as thought provoking. The author keeps us guessing with clever, authentic twists and turns as Charles Holborne seeks justice for his client. Brilliant! … a must read … a rare treat of an insight into a trial.”
RC Bridgestock, author of the bestselling DI Dylan series, story consultant to BBC’s Happy Valley and ITV’s Scott & Bailey.
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?
Based on real Old Bailey cases and genuine court documents, An Honest Man is the second in the series of Charles Holborne novels by barrister, Simon Michael, set in the sleazy London of the 1960s.
You can connect with author Simon Michael here:
“Addictive reading, I couldn’t put it down. A brilliant read. The plot kept twisting and turning providing nail biting suspense. The characters were believable and very real. I felt I was a fly on the wall in East End pubs watching scenes unfold. Then I found myself hiding behind furniture in the Chambers and eavesdropping on conversations. Charles was always one step ahead of me. I look forward to reading more by Simon Michael (5 stars).” Amazon reviewer
“…a great book I recommend to anybody who enjoys a good legal whodunit.”
“… gritty, gripping and utterly compelling. Highly recommended.”
Leah Moyse, Independent Blogger
“Move over Martina Cole, you’re going to have company on the bestsellers lists (5 stars).”
“…In weaving Holborne’s adventures around legal London, Michael evokes the “pyramid of steaming cholesterol” of the all-day breakfast at Mick’s, and the “damp sheep pen” smell of Bow Street Magistrates’ Court. Michael writes excellent dialogue too… on this form Michael should cast [Holborne] in more adventures.”
Law Society Gazette
“On a par with Lee Childs and James Patterson (5 stars).” Amazon reviewer
1960s London – gang wars, corrupt police, vice and pornography – ex-boxer, Charles Holborne, has plenty of opportunities to build his reputation with the criminal classes as a barrister who delivers. But Holborne, an East End boy made good, is not all he seems, and his past is snapping at his heels. When his philandering wife has her throat slashed, Holborne finds himself on the wrong side of the law and on the run, back in the only place he thought he’d be safe, the East End.
But now he’s got caught in the middle of a turf war between the Kray twins and the Yardies. Can Holborne stay one step ahead of the police and the real murderer, discover the truth and escape the hangman?
Based upon real Old Bailey cases and genuine court documents, The Brief is the first in barrister Simon Michael’s series of compelling criminal dramas, an evocative slice of sleazy glamour from the Swinging Sixties. Simon Michael delivers an authentic and addictive read for any crime fan.
“Chilling suspense and climactic surprises”
“…well out of the ordinary and far into the realms of seriously good storytelling…superlative courtroom drama…”
New Law Journal
“The court room scenes are good… entertaining”
Share this page Tweet this page