The Brief (Charles Holborne #1), by Simon Michael

Six stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Simon Michael and Sapere for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always a fan of a decent legal thriller, I jumped at the opportunity when offered this opening novel in Simon Michael’s 1960s London series. Charles Holborne is a barrister who has acquired his share of enemies. Shunned by the Jewish community when he chooses to forget his roots, Holborne must also handle a heavy criminal case load and deal with the fallout of lost cases and angered clients. One can also not forget the numerous other legal minds whose reputations he has tarnished while working in London. However, someone has been watching him and waiting to strike at just the right moment. Playing on the marital strains and are building within the Holborne household, someone seeks to frame him for a significant crime. Forced to take things into his own hands, Charles Holborne must risk his life and reputation to save them both. A decent story, though it did not pull me in enough to call it riveting. Those who enjoy legal stories may like this one, though I remain on the fence at this point in time.

I cannot say that Simon Michael hooked me with this novel, launching a series that appears to keep growing. That being said, the story wad sound and the characters appeared to have some depth. Set in London’s early 1960s, the story surrounds legal practices of the time and some of the criminal element that stalked the streets. Charles Holborne proves to be an interesting character whose legal mind and gritty determination help him forge compromises while also creating an ever-growing list of enemies. His personal life is full of issues as well, including a wife who has come to realise that she will need to look elsewhere for love and a romantic connection. Other characters make an impact on the story, though I was not as connected as I would have liked. The premise of the story was decent, though I felt the first half dragged and the second sped by too quickly for me to feel a decent connection to much of anything. I am not entirely sure if I will return for more, though I suspect Michael has a great deal to offer, even if I did not develop the needed connection to enjoy this reading experience. There was less legal intrigue than I might have hoped and it left me wanting much more. I may be in the minority here, but sometimes that’s a decent spot to inhabit, as I swim against the tide.

Kudos, Mr. Michael, for your efforts. Not entirely to my liking, though surely others may differ from my opinion.

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