Cover Image: Force of Evil

Force of Evil

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Member Reviews

This fun crime novel is the sixth instalment in the Charles Holborne series, although the first that I have read. Charles is an East-End Jewish barrister in 1960s London, whose reputation is on the rise after a series of successful cases. When Charles and his friend, an Irish policeman named Sloane, stumble across something suspicious at a railyard and Sloane ends up with a broken jaw, the pair begin to believe that there may be more going on than meets the eye… 

Their investigation into potentially related incidents leads to them being contacted by the widow of an RAF policeman, who died in what she believes to be suspicious circumstances shortly after he expressed concerns about the theft of RAF property. So begins a story that will uncover corruption in the armed forces and police service, lead to encounters with the Krays in the East End, and touch on the politics of South African apartheid, anti-Irish sentiments and antisemitism. All the while, Charles is also dealing with issues in her personal life such as loneliness and regret after a recent break-up and a loved one experiencing the early symptoms of dementia.

With so much going on, the story could easily have seemed muddled or forced, but that is not the case at all. Instead, we have a fast-paced, gripping legal thriller, which very easily moves between edge-of-your-seat action and some genuinely touching moments. The characters are fantastic, and I warmed to them all despite not knowing their back stories from the previous titles in the series. I definitely want to know more about them – Charles in particular – so will happily go back and start reading from book one. All in all, this was a very exciting historical legal crime story.

My thanks to the author, NetGalley, and the publisher for the arc to review.
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Simon Michael has done it again. A stellar piece of storytelling involving crime, intrigue featuring a real everyman in every sense of the word. Charles Holborne is a real one of a kind creation, along the lines of Jack Reacher - able to overcome obstacles through moxie and cunning.
Michael paints the 60s London with great detail and delight as a city he loves so much himself - the use of the Krays as the overbearing kings of London is paramount to an overarching narrative; yet you do not have had to read the five previous books as this 6th tale can be picked up and devoured with glee.
One of my favourite discoveries of recent years, a real joy
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I was a bit long to read it but not because of its quality. A very interesting book with a good story but also some depth with the contents. Hard to say without saying too much, but well worth your time!
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Simon Michael's legal thrillers set in the 1960s cleverly weave fact and fiction together. His attention to period detail permeates every page.
Charles Holborne is a criminal barrister, working out of chambers in central London. Taking on a pro bono case for a young widow at RAF Cardington leads him into extreme danger.
There are some big names in this novel, including the Kray twins, but it is the small details that made it so appealing. An excellent book.
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What a great story. There aren't many authors where I will tell family to make sure you read them but Simon Michael is one of those. Although I thought it started a bit slowly it quickly took off and get me turning the pages. The stories of police corruption make your hair curl but take you back to a different time. Thanks for the ARC. Highly recommend this series
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This is the sixth legal thriller featuring Charles Holborne and it is just as good as all the others. Simon Michael has come up with a formula that really works. In Holborne he has created a sympathetic yet flawed hero struggling to overcome the prejudice that a Jewish barrister from an unprivileged background would have faced in the early 60s.

He has also mined his own experiences as a barrister to recall many cases fr0m that period which fall into Holborne's lap and dealt with expertly by what is a brilliant barrister. There is also much period detail which will appeal to many who lived or were brought up during these times.

The writing is fluent, the research exemplary and the legal details accurate.What more can you ask for.

I will not divulge the plot but it grabbed me from the beginning and after many twists and turns - including what occurs in a wonderfully depicted court scene, all ends well.

I cannot wait until the next instalment.

Highly recommended.
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Another great book in the Charles Holborne series. Charles is a barrister whose career is now going upwards despite the many problems he has encountered in the past.  But he still has to deal with the Krays and the anti Semitism which is a real problem in the 1960s legal world (and in today’s society as the recent media coverage demonstrates).  Can he triumph in this case where a widow believes her RAF husband was murdered, when those around her are trying to prove it was just an accident? Will he be able to assist the doctor girlfriend of his friend who is being framed for a crime she did not commit? Will justice be done in either or both cases?
Simon Michael is an excellent author and although the main storyline in this book is not based on his personal experience, it is just as thrilling as all of his previous books.
Highly recommend this book and the others in the Charles Holborne series. I look forward to the next one!
Thanks to NetGalley for a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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’Accident or murder?’

London, 1965.  While Charles Holborne is still treated with reserve by most members of the establishment, his reputation is definitely on the rise.  He has had a series of successful cases, and if his personal life is in turmoil, his professional life seems to be improving.

He is asked to take a pro bono case, representing a widow before the coroner in a recent accidental death case.  The dead man, Sergeant Maynard, was a RAF policeman who worked at the Cardington base in Bedfordshire.  His death was considered to be the result of a motorcycle accident, but his wife insists he was murdered. Charles is not sure, but the closer he looks the more issues he discovers.  And when he and others are warned off, he realises that there is more at stake than he thought.

This is the sixth instalment in the Charles Holborne series, and is just as enjoyable as the other five.  Charles has a complicated personal life and while he is trying to get back together with his former partner Sally, his parents are ageing and need support as well.

I have enjoyed every book in this series: while the courtroom scenes are a particular highlight, London in the time of the Kray twins really adds to the atmosphere.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Force of Evil is the sixth instalment in the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers series, set in 1960s London. It is not necessary to have read any of the preceding books to enjoy this one as the case is self-contained and enough background is provided on the characters to bring new readers up to speed. When the widow of a Royal Air Force (RAF) policeman, who was stationed at Cardington in Bedfordshire, contacts Charles about the untimely death of her husband, he decides to take the case pro bono. It initially appears that the death of Sergeant Maynard was a tragic accident, however, a clandestine investigation, led by the RAF, into the incident indicates that it is likely there was a nefarious element to what happened. Mrs Maynard is adamant her husband was murdered and as Charles uncovers more and more information that supports her theory he and his family begin to receive threats and is told in no uncertain terms to leave the case well alone. 

Meanwhile, Charles’s personal life is as complicated as ever. He regrets cutting off his relationship with former partner Sally and takes to writing her letters about his quotidian life in the hope that his anecdotes will woo her back into his arms. Charles’s mother, Millie, is beginning to fade as a person due to health issues, which is sad, and Charles must juggle helping out his parents alongside brother David and his caseload. This is a riveting, engaging and thoroughly engrossing historical thriller, which is the best of the series so far. Michael’s descriptive prose immerses you in the setting of 60s London and the case feels authentic as it is based on a true story; it is also informed by Michael’s own experiences as a barrister. Needless to say, the courtroom scenes and dialogue also ring true and are realistic, not to mention exciting. An enthralling, gripping and thoroughly entertaining read and one I highly recommend. Many thanks to Sapere Books for an ARC.
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I started reading the Charles Holborn legal thriller series a few years ago. They are set in 1960s London at the time of the Krays and all 6 books including this one have been excellent reads which draw you in from page one.
Force of Evil was even better than the previous books if that is possible. 
The author introduces some interesting new characters including Dr Alexandra, an exiled South African which enables him to discuss the political situation there as well as the racial prejudice around in London at the time. Both Charles and Alexandra also  suffer from casual and institutional antisemitism. Unfortunately this racism  and antisemitism is still around today, more than 50 years later.
I couldn’t put this book down, the plot was fast moving, the characters were well drawn and the storyline about the theft of RAF property leading to murder rang true. As the author mentions at the end of the book this is based on a real case!
The courtroom scenes were outstanding and I held my breath at this point in the novel- I almost felt as if I was there myself in the Old Bailey.
This is such a good series and comes highly recommended, particularly if you like legal thrillers. The fact that it is set in the 1960s gives it an added dimension. So much was different in those days including  police corruption and the way investigations were conducted without the help of technology.  
 A great read which is worth every one of the five stars I’m giving it. Hurry up and write the next instalment Mr Michael!
Thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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The Charles Holborne series is one of my favourite with the books being uniformly excellent and great reads and in book number six Force of Evil those standards are maintained.

The author has created some great main and supporting characters and these together with a superb storyline drive the book along and keep the pages turning. The court scenes are my favourite part with the dialogue outstanding as Holborne questions both friend and foe.

This is a book and a series that I very strongly recommend
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