Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
When I was in my twenties and wanted to be a writer, I read pretty much everything by Jack Higgins, Len Deighton and Gerald Seymour. And the more I read, the more I began to think that if I worked hard enough and learned the craft, that I might one day be able to write the sort of books that they write. But I also read everything by John Le Carre, and the more I read of his work, the more I realised I would never be as good a writer as he is.
Now, forty years later, I like to think that I am just about in the same league as Jack Higgins, Len Deighton and Gerald Seymour. But when I pick up a new Le Carre, I’m always brought back to earth. After some thirty years earning my living as a thriller writer, I can see that I will never be as good a writer as the master..
I’ve just finished reading Le Carre’s latest - Agent Running In The Field - and wanted talk about it. (SPOILER ALERT - If you haven’t read it and think you might, don’t read any further as I will talk about the plot and the ending!)
It’s a great read, I stormed through it in a few days and read it late into the night. The writing is, as always, superb, and the characterisation is awesome, as are his descriptions of people and places. He writes at a totally different level to me. I’m not worthy.
So what I am posting about it? It’s not by way of criticism, it’s more a case of trying to get my thoughts in order and to see what everyone else thinks.
Here’s one thing that troubled me. Everyone in the book is rabidly anti-Trump and anti-Brexit. Everyone. There is no balance. Now, I’m not necessarily a fan of balance. My editor asked me to put in a favourable Somali person in my thriller about Somalian pirates, and I did understand and agreed even though I felt it wasn’t necessary. And generally I have Spider Shepherd to provide a more balanced view when faced with characters spouting extremist opinions be they right, left, racist or homophobic. But there is no one in this book to provide an opposing view. I just felt it was tiring being constantly told that only idiots supported Trump or wanted to leave the EU. And it felt to me that if you write like that you risk alienating half your readers!
The other issue I had was the plot. The ending made absolutely no sense to me. The hero - Nat- and his wife, help the would-be traitor Ed escape with his new wife, Flo. They sneak him out of a building and into a car they have rented and drive him to an airport. The idea is that Ed and Flo run away to start a new life somewhere in Europe. Wait, what? They have no money, no fake documents, how exactly are they going to do that? Fifty years ago it might have been possible to start a new life as easily as that, but these days? And Nat has openly helped a would-be traitor to escape. That means he and his wife are headed for prison. There’s no thought of what the repercussions will be. And would Ed’s alternative, of staying in place and becoming a double agent, be so bad? A few years of that and he could leave and start a new life with the blessing of the UK authorities. I really didn’t understand the ending. Or was I missing something? If you have read it, please let me know what you think!
But it was the tradecraft, I think, that worried me the most. In his early books I loved the operating secrets that he revealed, dead drop letter boxes, secret meetings, counter-surveillance measures, I always felt that he was telling me stuff that I really wasn’t supposed to know. But in this latest book, most of the tradecraft seems to be stuck back in the Seventies. Do agents still put secret papers in hollowed-out handles of badminton rackets? Do foreign spies still receive coded messages using one-off code pads? Do they listen to overseas radio stations to get their coded instructions? At one point Nat is wary of the phone extension in his bedroom. But he is happily carrying around a mobile that his bosses have given him. Doesn’t he realise that even when switched off it is capable of storing and transmitting everything heard in its vicinity? Doesn’t he know that lasers can pick up vibrations on his window and turn that into sound? The bedroom landline is the least of his worries.
He wants to contact a former spy and his way of contacting her is to write a note, sneak into her building, pop it through the letterbox and knock and run away. He then waits for her to join him on a bench. But he didn’t even know if she was home.
It was all very strange, as if spies from the 60s and 70s had been transplanted to the present day and who ignored all the technological advance that have been made over the decades. These days a landline is the last place you’d put a bug, and encrypted mobiles and websites are a safe way of communicating generally. A burner smart phone and a few WhatsApp accounts will do the job…..
Anyway, I did love the book, it entertained me and made me think, so job done. I’d love to hear any other opinions on it!
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Friday, August 3, 2018
You can buy Tall Order BY CLICKING HERE
At the moment I'm hard at work on a new standalone thriller - LAST MAN STANDING - and then I'll be starting on the Spider Shepherd book for 2019. Busy, busy, busy!
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Well, I say standalone, I have just started writing a second Lex Harper novel - PAYBACK - a fast-paced revenge story that I'm having a lot of fun with. I don't know if my publisher Hodder and Stoughton want a second Lex Harper book but if not I'll happily self publish it. We'll see!
Anywhere, here's the review!
You can buy TAKEDOWN HERE
The latest Spider Shepherd book, LIGHT TOUCH, has just been published and already has seven cracking reviews on Amazon!
YOU CAN SEE LIGHT TOUCH BY CLICKING HERE
Amazon have just slashed the price of the LIGHT TOUCH hardback to £7, which is cheap!
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Having said that, it's worth checking out my Facebook page HERE
I've stayed off Twitter for more than a year and haven't regretted it at all. I left at the same time as Stephen Fry. He went back, I didn't. I've noticed a lot of writers do love to Tweet but I still believe it's a waste of time and energy - you either preach to the converted or get attacked by trolls. Either way there are more productive ways of using your time!
And boy, have I been productive!
I've just finished writing the 14th Spider Shepherd book, Light Touch. It'll be in the shops late July but is already available for pre-sale on Amazon HERE
I've also released half a dozen Jack Nightingale short stories. I love the Nightingale character and hope to have a full-length Nightingale book ready by the end of the year!
I have put nine of the stories in a collection which is now available as a paperback and as an eBook. You can buy it HERE
Yesterday I finished writing another standalone thriller about a female firefighter. Vicky Lewis, who gets badly injured and is moved to fire investigations. It's a fast-paced thriller with some great characters and I had terrific fun writing it. As you can see from the photographs below, I researched the hell out of it!
The book is called BURNT and I hope to get it published later this year!
Durting the last year I also wrote and self-published my soccer thriller, PENALTIES. I had lots of fun writing it, even though I know next to nothing about football.
Here's the blurb -
Premier League footballer Gabe Savage is on the way to one of the most important matches of his life when he gets a phone call from his wife. She has been kidnapped along with their young son. And the message from the kidnappers is brutal - IF YOUR TEAM WINS, YOUR FAMILY DIES. With the kick-off only hours away, there is only one person Gabe can turn to - his brother Ray, a vicious London gangster. But a dark family secret means that he hasn't spoken to Ray for years. Can Ray help? And will he?
How cool is that? You can buy PENALTIES by clicking HERE
Earlier this year Hodder and Stoughton published another standalone thriller of mine, TAKEDOWN, featuring Lex Harper, a character from my Spider books..
It was planned as a series but it doesn't look as if Hodder want more, which is a pity! I might well write more and self-publish them - we'll see!
So what am I working on now? I have started on a new Jack Nightingale short story, The Mansion, which should be ready in a week or two.
I've also just started writing a standalone thriller about two detectives in London investigating a death in a mosque. It's an awesome idea and unfortunately it's so awesome I can say very little about it, I don't normally keep my cards close to my chest but this book is a bit special so mum's the word until it's done and dusted!
Oh, and I have had a Richard Yokely book on the back burner for years now. I've written about 20,000 words but have yet to finish it. This might be the year that I finally do!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
It's a terrific promotion for those readers who want to hold a real paperback in their hands.
I have self-published the books through Createspace, which is an awesome print-on-demand system which most self-publishers use.
Authors don't make as much money from the POD paperbacks as they do from eBooks but it's worth doing as so many readers do prefer paperbacks to eBooks.
Amazon have chosen six of my paperbacks as part of a May promotion.
New York Night - the latest Jack Nightingale supernatural thriller - is just £5.99 for the month of May - You can buy it - HERE
San Francisco Night - where Jack Nightingale fights demons in San Francisco - is also just £5.99 - You can buy it HERE
The Spider Shepherd SAS short story collections are included in the promotion with Spider Shepherd: SAS Volume 1 now £5.39 now, down from £8.99 - You can buy it HERE
Spider Shepherd: SAS Volume 2 is also £5.39, down from £8.99 - You can buy it HERE
Take Two - my murder mystery set in the world of soap operas - is also down from £8.99 to £5.39 - You can buy it HERE
My psychological thriller The Bestseller is slashed from £7.99 to £4.79 - You can buy it HERE