An Honest Man by Simon Michael

An Honest Man is published by Urbane Publications, my thanks to the Publisher and the Author for my review copy.

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.

My Thoughts:

An Honest Man sees a welcome return to reading about the adventures of Charles Holborne, whom I first read about in The Brief. This book although follows on, can be read excellently as a standalone. 

Part thriller, part courtroom drama, Charles Holborne and this series hasn't lost it's spark for me. Charles Holborne is a bit of an enigma, his love life is a disaster and whilst making correct decisions in some areas, he makes completely silly ones in others. What remains true throughout is that he is one hell of a character and a top notch Criminal Barrister. 

The setting remains the same, 1960's London, sleaze and scandal abound, seedy pubs and potentially corrupt police officers, gangsters and criminals. Even the notorious Kray twins feature amongst the plot. 

I love the grit and the ease with which the author writes, creating scenes from a previous time, but managing to bring them to life like they were yesterday. The author manages to create scenarios for the reader so that it is easy to get swept up amongst all of the action, never sure which way the plot will turn next.

I particularly liked the court documents, transcripts and witness statements. These served to make the plot more realistic and created a way for the drama to unfold before the readers eyes.

I adore Charles Holborne for all of his nuances, although I think I would have a few words to say to him!

This series excites me, it is solid, well written, well plotted and imagined. What excites me the most is that this author brings something new to the crime and courtroom genre and that is why I will continue to read this series and am waiting patiently for another one. 

If you enjoy crime books with a bit of originality then I think you would like this one. 

About the Author:

Simon Michael was called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in 1978. In his many years of prosecuting and defending criminal cases he has dealt with a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy.
A storyteller all his life, Simon started writing short stories at school. His first novel (co-written) was published by Grafton in 1988 and was followed in 1989 by his first solo novel, The Cut Throat, the first of the Charles Holborne series, based on Simon’s own experiences at the criminal Bar. The Cut Throat was successful in the UK (WH Allen) and in the USA (St Martin’s Press) and the next in the series, The Long Lie, was published in 1992. Between the two, in 1991, Simon’s short story “Split” was shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan/Perrier Short Story Award. He was also commissioned to write two feature screenplays.
Simon then put writing aside to concentrate on his career at the Bar. After a further 25 years’ experience he now has sufficient plots based on real cases for another dozen legal thrillers. The first, The Brief was published in the autumn of 2015.


  1. Thank you so much Leah for reading and reviewing - and what a great and insightful review! Charles is indeed an unreconstructed man, doing his best to be a good guy, and not always succeeding. So, always tricky to make him likeable despite his flaws. Thanks again for the support.

    1. You're more than welcome. Can't wait to hear about more of his antics.