Book Review

The Brief by Simon Michael


Rating: ★★★★☆

Working as a barrister, Charles Holborne is used to dealing with criminals, but always from the “right side” of the law.  When his wife is found murdered, he is the prime suspect and is subsequently arrested for her murder.

Determined to prove his innocence, he manages to escape and goes on the run, following up on the clues that the investigating officer refuses to acknowledge, so determined is he to see Holborne convicted.

Can Holborne clear his name before the police catch up with him?

Charles Holborne is a great character.  Unlike most of his colleagues, he wasn’t born into wealth and has fought his way up from his East End roots, and I liked that he stayed true to his nature rather than trying to fit in with those around him, which is often an easier path to follow.  He also takes on the criminal cases that many of his peers won’t touch, and as such has something of a reputation as a maverick.  I love a rebel, and Charles Holborne is certainly that.

Throughout, The Brief felt authentic, both in terms of the time in which it’s set, but also as a courtroom drama and police procedural.  This is hardly surprising, given that Simon Michael has himself worked as a barrister, and I liked that he was able to evoke such authenticity without resorting to overly complex legal jargon – this is a brilliantly written novel that is easy to follow.  Michael incorporates various legal documents such as witness statements to enhance the story, and these, combined with the references to real-life events going on at the time helped to evoke time and place.

I really enjoyed The Brief.  It’s a gritty drama set in 1960s London and is brilliantly plotted.  This isn’t a thriller with a big twist, but more of a police procedural in which the clues eventually lead Charles and the reader to the perpetrator.  An entertaining read, and one that I read in two sittings.  Highly recommended to those who enjoy a good ol’ fashioned whodunit.

The Brief is available now in paperback and as an eBook.  Many thanks to Simon Michael for providing a copy for review – I can’t wait to get on to An Honest Man, the second Charles Holborne novel.


  1. Thank you Jo for taking the time to post such a thoughtful and complimentary review. I’ll ask Urbane to send you An Honest Man, which follows on in time directly from The Brief.

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