Tuesday 25 February 2020

The Waxwork Corpse (Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers Book 5) - Simon Michael

Charles Holborne is back – with his strangest case to date! Perfect for fans of John Grisham, Robert Bailey, Michael Connelly and Robert Dugoni.

A deadly crime has been dragged to the surface…

London, 1965

Charles Holborne, maverick barrister, will never fit in at the Bar; he is too working-class, too Jewish and too dangerous.

But that makes him the perfect outsider to prosecute a shocking murder case which has already made its way to the press.

By chance, a body was found, dumped in a lake. It had clearly been there for some time, but the conditions in the water have meant that it was nearly perfectly preserved.

The police have managed to match this ‘waxwork corpse’ to a missing woman and if her husband — a senior judge — was the one who killed her, the scandal threatens to rock the British justice to its foundations.

The waxwork corpse is not the only thing to be raised from the past. The investigation also dredges up a violent mistake made by Charles in his youth which, if revealed, could put his own life at stake…

THE WAXWORK CORPSE, based on a real Old Bailey case, is the fifth crime novel in an exciting historical series, the Charles Holborne Legal Thrillers — gritty, hard-boiled mysteries set in 1960s London.

What did I think?

I'm a huge fan of Simon Michael's Charles Holborne series and I made sure that I had this fifth instalment on preorder so that it dropped onto my kindle on release day.  Although it took me a few weeks to get round to reading it, I can definitely say that it was well worth waiting for.

Simon Michael has taken the Charles Holborne series to the next level with The Waxwork Corpse; not only do we get to see Charles at his lowest ebb but, as it says on the cover, there is a huge twist in this book.  I wasn't going to refer to this at all as it feels like a bit of a spoiler, but all I will say is that it's an absolutely brilliant jaw-dropping ending to an outstanding book.

My heart really went out to Charles in this book.  The prejudice he experiences is a common theme throughout the whole series but it seems to really reach a head in The Waxwork Corpse.  Not only do his peers look down their noses at him because of his Jewish ancestry and his East End upbringing, but his mother has basically disowned him because he refuses to conform to the Jewish faith.  Millie Horowitz is a very bitter woman and when she stops speaking to Charles she turns her forked tongue on her long suffering husband.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Charles Holborne legal thriller without a court case and what a case it is!  Charles is not afraid to take on a high profile case, after all he has nothing to lose and this case of the murdered wife of a judge resonates with Charles as he was in a similar situation in The Brief.  This time, Charles is on the prosecution rather than being the accused and I loved reading about sifting through the collection of evidence and flashbacks to the judge's past.

I actually didn't think Simon Michael's writing had any room for improvement but oh my goodness some of the descriptions in The Waxwork Corpse gave me goosebumps.  The description of Tiffen's Rock on the shore of Wastwater is simply sublime, but one sentence stood out among others and I'd like to share it here.  During one of Charles' own flashbacks during the blitz, he is out with his cousin Izzy when the air raid sirens start sounding and with searchlights scanning the skies for enemy aircraft, Simon Michael writes:
"London holds its breath."
Never before have four words been so powerful and held such meaning.  It feels like Simon Michael has carefully chosen every single one of his words and they all fit together perfectly to complete the jigsaw of The Waxwork Corpse. 

Scarily true to life The Waxwork Corpse is actually based on a real life case and you can find out more about the Lady in the Lake here.  I love that crossover between fact and fiction in novels, although we love to escape through fiction there's something special about books that feel true to life.  I always love it when a book interests me so much that I end up heading off to google to find out more.

Exceptional, outstanding and completely brilliant, The Waxwork Corpse, is Simon Michael at his finest.  This phenomenal series blasts all other legal thrillers out of the water and I can't recommend it highly enough.  Simon Michael, you're accused of stealing all five stars.  How do you plead?  GUILTY!

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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