The Waxwork Corpse. Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s books are up there with my favourites.

This series of legal thrillers set through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are fictional, but, and it’s a big but, each book is set around things that actually happened.

Readers will recognise some of the Gangland names that the Barrister Charles Holborne meets and deals with. They will recognise some of the periphery characters and will be aware of some of the crimes that took place, some of which are almost urban legend, some of which were national headlines.

In this case Simon Michael has used a less well known case and spun his own story around it, a story that so closely resembles the real life happenings that it is almost a documentary of the crime and the court case. There is even a nod to one of the main, real life protagonists,  in the name of one of the main characters in the book.

When the body of a woman is fished from the depths of Britain’s deepest lake it has the appearance of a waxwork dummy wrapped in plastic sheeting. What it actually is, is the remains of a woman that has been missing for over 10 years.

Her husband quickly becomes a suspect in her murder and Charles Holborne is asked to help prosecute the man.

Charles battles with the dilemma of sitting at the prosecution table, he usually represents the defendants, and the possible outcomes of prosecuting such a high profile defendant.

The case makes national headlines, as did the real one, and Holborne is thrust into the limelight. This brings someone from his past life, during the early years of World War Two, out of the woodwork. Somebody who Charles would rather not have to deal with.

In another reflection of true life Charles is battling anti-Semitism inside and outside of the court. As a “lapsed” practitioner of the Jewish Faith he is also battling with his own family.

Every page of this book brings something to the story.

The crime and trial are addictive reading on their own, but throw in all of the issues in Charles’ own life, and it moves to a whole new level of crime writing.

An absolutely stunning addition to what is already a brilliant series.

Pages: 336

Publishers: Sapere Books

Available now

The Darkness Around Her. Neil White

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Lizzie has been in an abusive relationship for a while, so when she gets hit, in public, on New Year’s Eve, she decides she’s had enough and runs away. Unfortunately, she decides to run away along a canal tow path where a killer is waiting.

When her body is found the Police quickly make an arrest. The suspect asks for legal representation form only one person. Dan Grant.

Dan is a Barrister who has specialised in representing defendants for the last 10 years, but this defendant is a first for him, a first in two ways. He won’t talk about the crime, even to Dan, and he won’t allow Dan to employ a Queens Council. He wants Dan to represent him in Court.

Dan is left with no choice, if his client won’t give him anything to use in his defence, he will have to find evidence to prove his innocence himself.

Dan employs his usual Private Investigator, Jayne Brett, to start digging around for information on the suspect and the girl he is accused of killing.

Jayne is a good investigator, but she has one problem. Dan. There is a chemistry between them, one that Jayne would love to explore, but Dan has ethics and Jayne was once a client. The chemistry is real and at times both of them are genuinely frustrated to the point of distraction.

As the court case gets closer the investigation starts to uncover more crimes that have occurred on the Canal, can they all be related? Is this the defence? Could they prove that if their client didn’t commit any of the other crimes he can’t be responsible for this murder.

This book takes the reader on one hell of a trip. The parts of the book written about the legal process; the client interviews, the trips to the police station, the court proceedings are fascinatingly written and very realistic.

The investigation into the murder on the canal, and the historic crimes which have taken place are great. Proper Investigations have to take place, there’s not many CCTV cameras on canals, no ANPR cameras. If you’ve ever walked along a canal in a city centre, you’ll know how quickly you feel like you are out in the country.

The canals are a great place to set a modern day crime and have to rely on investigation techniques from 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the legal side of it, the investigation is intriguing, and the relationship between Dan and Jayne is mesmerising.

 

Pages: 448

Publisher. Zaffre

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018