Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Book Review: The Brief (Legal Thriller)

The Brief
Simon Michael

Publisher: Sapere Books
Publication date: 10th June 2019
Series: Charles Holborne #1
Pages: 369
Format Read: Kindle edition
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

London, 1960

Barrister Charles Holborne is not popular. A Jewish East Ender with a rough past, he is ostracised by his anti-Semitic and class-conscious colleagues who don’t want him in their prestigious Establishment profession.

And the bitterness Charles feels at work is spilling over into his personal life, putting his marriage under strain.

When a high-profile murder case lands on his desk, Charles is hopeful his fortunes will turn around.

But after a shocking crime is committed, he finds himself on the other side of law…

Can he outwit those trying to frame him? Will he manage to unmask the real criminal?

Or will he find himself on trial for murder…?


Charles Holborne has done well in life despite his background of being a Jew from the East End. He became a barrister, the only barrister in Chambers to have been state-educated, he got into Cambridge by virtue of a scholarship. Turning his back on his past and his family Charles marries well and tries to hide his Jewish heritage. However he always feels like an outsider with the British elite and feels he will never be one of them.

Charles’ desire to bring in criminal cases to a Chambers that prefers to handle civil cases only causes him to obtain a few enemies in the office.
While he is making a name for himself in the courts Charles’ private life is slowly falling apart, as he works long hours his wife moves her attentions elsewhere.

The Brief is an engrossing legal thriller. The character development was well executed with plenty of back story on Charles so the reader received a good overall feel of how Charles thinks.
The first half of the story focussed on the legal system and a court case Charles was involved in. It wasn’t until the second half that the pace picked up and we follow Charles, whilst on the run from police, as he pieces together his own evidence to prove his innocence when he is framed for a murder.

There was a sexual harassment scene that I thought didn’t really play out well and I couldn’t see why it was included in the story.

The setting of 1960’s London was atmospheric with the dimly lit, deserted streets and the dingy pubs. Set in a time when there were no mobile phones or credit cards it made for some clever plotting when Charles was on the run.

I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what is next for Charles Holborne.

My rating  4/5


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, 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 and genuine court documents from cases on which he worked.
Simon was published here and in America in the 1980s and returned to writing when he retired from the law in 2016

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Webbsite  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter



  1. I do love a good thriller so I'm adding this to my wish list.

  2. The Brief sounds like a good thriller and I like that it's set before the digital era. Great post!

    1. I liked that it was pre mobile phone. It makes the plotting a little trickier.