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

Deathly Wind. Keith Moray

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This is the second book in the DI Torquil McKinnon series set on a remote Scottish Island.

But don’t let the remote small island, with its small community put you off. This is a complex story with many twists and turns.

The story starts with an assassin killing a family, and a missing Police Officer.

At the same time a big-time-Charlie from the mainland takes over the big house and brings with him the threat of erecting a wind farm on the old crofts. The problem is the crofts are still being run as farms by well-established families.

The new Laird is Jock McArdle, a business man from Glasgow, who brings with him two enforcers.

More deaths start to take place on the island but are most of them just accidents.

As the death count rises there are conflicts amongst the small group of residents on the island. Half of them are against the wind farms, the other half are for them.

There is a hedgehog cull about to take place but one resident, Megan, who is fervently against it, starts to cause problems. Could she be responsible for some of the deaths?

Her Boyfriend Nial is a Bird Protectionist, who is very protective of the eagle population on the island. So, when it is claimed one of the deaths is down to an eagle attack he too starts to act strangely. Could he be the murderer?

Then there is the young pretty Megan. She only had eyes for the missing Police Officer but is finding comfort in half of the male population. Is one of her comforters acting out of jealousy.

The small island Police force is headed by DI Torquil McKinnon, the motorcycle riding, bag pie playing, widower, who went to school with most of the main suspects in the crimes. With one of his two full time officers missing he has to run the inquiry with his full time DS, and two volunteer constables. The story of the investigation is brilliantly addictive, and the result is not easily anticipated.

Over the last year I have read a few books set in the remote Scottish Isles. The large open spaces with the small tight knit communities lend themselves to some great stories. In fact, I have come to realise that The Scottish Isles Murder books are the new Closed Room Mysteries of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie fame.

The two books in this series which have so far been published are brilliant.

If you like a good murder mystery you will love these books.

With summer creeping up on us, people might be looking for a book to read around the pool or on the beach. Get this series. There is only one problem with them. You will be left desperately wanting book 3, and we are going to have to wait for a while for that.

Pages: 224

Publisher: Sapere

Available now