An Honest Man is the second novel in Simon Michael’s Charles Holborne series, and begins approximately one year after the events of The Brief (you can see my review here), the first novel in the series. I think that you could read An Honest Man as a standalone, although it would give away key elements of the first novel, so I would recommend reading these in order.
Charles Holborne is struggling to get back on his feet following the events in The Brief. Unable to obtain all but the merest scraps of work, his bank balance and his rent are suffering. Just as he’s considering alternative careers simply to earn a living, he lands a new case. And it’s huge! But is it too good to be true? As Holborne begins to dig into the events surrounding his client and the accusations made against him, he is drawn into the murky world of London gangs and corrupt police officers.
In reviewing The Brief earlier this year, I said that the author brings a huge degree of authenticity to his novels without resorting to overly complex legal jargon, and I’m pleased to say that such is the case with An Honest Man. This is a believable (hardly surprising given Simon’s background) courtroom drama. Throughout the story, the reader is also presented with various legal documents, such as witness statements, and these also add to the authentic vibe that the novel imparts. And I love that these are based upon actual Old Bailey cases!
A fair proportion of this novel is given over to a courtroom battle between the prosecution and Holborne’s defence of his client. Whilst this may not satisfy those who like action-filled novels, I found this to be incredibly gripping, and this is probably one of the most tension-filled courtroom scenes I’ve read since Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I was riveted as both sides scored points against the other, the tactics they use to discredit each other’s witnesses, and it was never obvious which way the jury would go. Of course, there’s a twist, but I’d hate to spoil it for you!
I was absolutely thrilled when Urbane Publications recently announced that the third novel in the Charles Holborne series, The Lighterman, will be published in June 2017. An Honest Man ends with a tantalising hint of what’s to come, and I can’t wait to see what Holborne gets up to next.
Many thanks to Simon Michael for providing a copy of An Honest Man for review.