The Man Who Thought He Was Evil

Novel, England, 1940s, 1950s

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When Eddy Cochrane, a very innocent teenager, is knocked-off his bicycle and hits his head on the way to the Army Call-up medical, he tells the doctors he has an urge to be evil. A few weeks under observation at a mental hospital help him mature and broaden his horizons from being a loner quantity surveyor. From there, using the post-war upheaval and Polish emigres, he quickly develops into a successful construction manager. But an lurking ember of evil gives the nicest family man a ruthless side.

There aren’t many romantic stories combining quantity surveying with Polish music and post-war Polish exiles.

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Man With A Voice

Novel, Advertising England, 1960s, 1970s, Manchester

Front cover

At school Clive latches-on to the detached style of school reports. Clive is a shy boy and so on. From this beginning he finds it easy to detach the view inside his head from his body so as to look at himself going about his business from the outside. His imagination and unusual view lead him to a very successful career in marketing. However, while he ‘s good at shaking-up executives from Tokyo and New York, although he’s dedicated to his wife, he doesn’t realise she’s got talent and ambitions of her own.

This is a story of success over the latter part of the 20th century. How one man can connect with millions yet still be that disconnected school boy inside.

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Who Killed John Crowe

Novel, Essex, Amateur Detective

National crime correspondent Keeble Shilling has to look again at an unsolved murder on the Essex marshes. He was present at the crime scene twenty seven years ago and now current events are getting too close to home. Being at the right place at the wrong time makes him a celebrity, which despite his knowledge of the workings of the media is very difficult for him to deal with. While dealing with local crime the tight Dengie community becomes involved with its own media story as Keeble struggles to cope with urgent issues that really matter.

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The first of my books set in Essex. This part is a bit remote and makes an ideal backdrop for a local character and well known wife who are ‘local’.

Here’s a tip for all writers: Don’t murder somebody unless you know who the murderer is. I’d got ‘ideas’ but it’s nerve-wracking writing night after night wondering how the hell you’re going to wrap it up. We find out in the last chapter almost as a side issue to the really important immediate matter.

By the way, can you describe me a tortoise?

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Two Man Double Act

Play, Two-hander, England

Front cover

Friends are fun.
Real imaginary friends are evil.
Imaginary imaginary friends are bizarre.
Girlfriends are unknowably dangerous.

A few weeks in the lives of two well educated but ‘drifting’ men in their early twenties reveals hidden pasts and troublesome relationships with women that they attempt to sort out with the good humour of good friendship. We see them discover things about themselves and mature in response to unexpected happenings.
The entertaining story is told by conversation between just the two characters themselves at their frequent meetings. Chuckle at bizarre situations and reflect on deeper relationships.

What is the currency of friendship?

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She Who Must Be Sailed

Novel, Science fiction, England

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Solo sailor, alpha (for arsehole) male, Colton follows clues to buried treasure in the Indian Ocean. What he finds makes him think he’s being head-hunted to be a space sailor and this is an aptitude test. He’s right, but now he’s got another woman in his life and she’s not like the others. Can she convince him to save the planet?

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Seamouth Saxophone

Novel, England, Dignified dying, society

On the East Devon coast there’s a weird idea to promote assisted dying and ‘rescue’ potential suicides. It takes unusual people to make steps forward in society. A community becomes civilised and the Country follows.

Highly creative odd-balls can create a future. Those that think differently can build a different future.

Front coverThis speculates about a contemporary plan to promote civilised dying. There’s nothing about the patients, this is about the people in the front-line of care and the community that supports them doing a very delicate and stressful job. Obviously there are legal and ‘moral’ battles that need to be fought. What sort of tough-nuts come together in a team to deal with that? What’s the appropriate approach to waifs who want to ‘jump off the cliff’?

It should become clear that society itself needs to become civilised as well. The community of a small town on the Devon Coast is an example to us all. April 30th is neighbour day — So how does that work?

The subject for this book is deep and controversial. I’ve approached it in two ways:

  1. Civilised society is possible
  2. Individuals can make a difference

Of course, the sharp edges are the two very distinct aspects of:

  1. Assisting terminally ill
  2. ‘Mending’ potential suicides if possible
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Model Murder

Novel, Essex, Cold-war, Spying, Feisty pensionesrs

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Reminiscing about wartime at the model railway club leads to romance and reopening the strange case of the murdered vicar and his wife. Our pensioner couple uncover suspicions of spying, smuggling and cold-war treachery on their own doorstep. Follow Terry and Rachel as they fight the spooks for answers and have other triumphs in Maldon, Essex.

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Minda

Novel, Mediaeval, England, Europe, Feisty teenage girls

An abandoned duke’s daughter with claw hand, club foot and bad eye grows up to be loved by her friends and feared by her enemies. Minda brings her charming personality, guile and determination to the sometimes violent Middle Ages as she builds her strength, overcomes her disabilities, forges bonds between blacksmiths, exposes criminals and creates a team of devoted servants and friendly allies to protect her. One moment she is a legend that fights lions, the next she’s dealing with the practical emotion of taking a murdered child back to its mother.

That’s half of the first book of five.

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This series might specially appeal to older teenager females as that’s the central character. However although she’s a great role model, there’s nothing ‘girly’… unless boys don’t do romance. She’s strong and ugly but people love her. There’s no swashbuckling, lots of hard work and occasional close-up violence.

Read these in sequence.

Volume 1 — Minda Grows Up

Rejected and disabled Minda grows up to be strong in every sense of the word, but she’s got a lot to learn about the world beyond her village. She has a knack of confronting enemies and making families.

Volume one has a particularly brutal page.
It’s preceded by a clear warning but
perhaps you should be 16 before reading it.
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Volume 2 — Minda Inherits

This continues the story with deadly attacks on Minda as she tries to establish her inheritance and place at court. Winter doesn’t help things but she uses her resourcefulness and team-building to stunning effect.

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Volume 3 — Minda Falters

Minda suffers a collapse through overwork. It’s not a good time as there’s rebellion in the air. We meet a bunch of teenage cadets (The Black Team) who prove themselves in bloody skirmishes and politics.

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Volume 4 — The Black Team Escapes

Book 4 focusses on The Black Team abroad ‘on holiday to keep out of trouble’. There is romance of course but their coup is to defeat a plot against the King of Lanconia. What were two bitching countries become friends as a result.

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Volume 5 — Steady Into The Storm

How is Minda ever going to find a husband and lasting love? Amongst urgent preparations to defend against the Pope, northern invaders and surly lords she and her organisation make progress through extreme efforts. There’s no war because Minda can threaten and act with secret force.

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Legends

Novel, Historical Mediaeval, England

When you first start making up legends it’s important you’re the only surviving witness. After a while the respect of those at court wanes and another quest or holy deed must be undertaken. Knight Sâledàr finds he must live up to his reputation but now has to have companions that requires a change of plan. How do you slay a non-existent Welsh dragon everyone locally knows is an excuse for sheep stealing?

He finds a noble lady with chronic depression and ‘rescues’ her by marriage. He’s a sympathetic old soul really. From a lonely wanderer he becomes a family man. The strange thing is that his youngest daughter has his boldness and very quickly acquires a legendary reputation as a general which is her strength.

The Kingdom is vastly improved as Sâledàr’s devious imagination and insight are put to good use.

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This started as a pack of lies told by a knight to bolster his status. Then his deceptions help him deal with the deceptions of others. Then going on a quest, even if it’s a sham, is good training for apprentice Knights. Rebellion can be countered by spreading invented propaganda about the rebels. Finally if you’re nothing but a fierce girl you can use a legend to project strength and character, recruit volunteers and gather real strength.

I found it interesting as the base lies of a desperate knight were just the start of a really useful outlook on the value of invention. Also how it can sometimes take on a life of its own by suggesting ways the real people should behave. Of course there are real mediaeval histories which are never less than somewhat biased and often completely loopy.

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Good Apple

Novel, Historical 1920s, England, Europe, Crime and detection,

A loner, Londoner, blackmailer uses his skills to fight crime with the tacit blessing of the Chief Constable. Tom can work secretly to trap sex predators and corruption. They soon realise there is a lot of rottenness in the Metropolitan Police which causes major difficulties, but also helps establish Tom and his ‘non-existent’ ‘D5’ operation amongst people who want to do something about it.

On a personal level Tom finds romance and families that have been missing from his life. He tries to avoid publicity but becomes a local hero. It’s rather embarrassing when he’s innocently right on the scene of violent death more than once.

As well as gangsters, fraudsters, unpleasant local worthies and the shambles at Scotland Yard, Tom and his team get involved in national security, in particular on the alert to deal with what might happen if the political violence in Italy, Poland and Germany was to spread to England.

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This was an interesting series to write as there really was corruption and appalling management at Scotland Yard at the time. Some of Tom’s modernising ideas would be used later, including international collaboration between police forces. One character was a real person who went on to be a founder member of the Flying Squad. His wife is a mathematician and involved with not only code-breaking but also the practicalities of use and interception.

The 1920s were unstable times. Mass unemployment, industrial unrest and examples to look at in Europe of Fascist and Communist street warfare and murder. The Chief Constable and Tom are jointly determined that peaceful and purposeful protests are legal and good, but any sort of violence or underground political conspiracy must be stopped.

The series has halted with Tom’s team ready to become a ‘private’ and well-connected international intelligence operation.

Read these in sequence.

Volume 1

Blackmailer Tom escapes from London and loneliness to Dorset where he’s ‘adopted’ by the Chief Constable and puts his skills to ‘good’ use.

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Volume 2

Tom continues making families out of lovely, lonely and damaged people. Europe’s troubles worry him. He tries international spying as an outlet for his secret ways. He finds himself as a public hero when he wants to stay in the shadows. Dorset policing becomes recognised and very worrying for corrupt empire-builders in the Metropolitan Police and Home Office.

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Volume 3

Tom’s habit of being too close to violent death for comfort continues. Finance, intelligence, corruption in London, watching for opportunities to train his followers goes on. Trust in troubled times helps them work as a team to deal with serious crime, national security and finding a replacement Chief Constable for when Harry retires.

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