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

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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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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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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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Future

Novel, light SF, 2360

By 2359ad only one colony has survived the Earth’s Great Wipeout. Leaders and hence factions and hence in-fighting are BAD but now they have to repopulate a wild surface they need strong, bad, leaders. The system selects a nerd who has to learn quickly.

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Twenty one today! Matt is is wearing a uniform where uniforms are forbidden! He’s got to see the Colony Chairman. ‘A weak leader is a good leader’ so the saying goes which is how the colony survived 250 years underground when the Earth’s surface suffered the Great Wipeout. No leaders or uniforms or factions means no-infighting. The Chairman is affable but Matt’s worries are about to begin. The System is in a hurry to find a strong, bad, leader to repopulate the surface where things are wild and has decided to skip the traditional Rose Screens and go straight for a marriage. He’s got no idea whatsoever about women and less about sex. Their first night together is sabotaged by a joke sex manual, but the System will find a way. He’s never done anything anti-social but soon gets the hang of how to build a reputation and use it. Eventually the surface isn’t quite what he expected, as there are pockets of people occupying ruins although without electricity or law.

WARNING: Explicit sex

This book is all about personal development, team-building and leadership. Strangely, the most critical manager in the colony is effective but the anthesis of what we’d expect. When the time comes for Matt to inherit the symbol of spiritual power he starts to become a symbolic rather than actual leader.

One of the experiments was to have everybody in the colony finish their speech with the name of the person it was directed to. So instead of Fred said “Hello” then Bill replied “Not you again!” it goes “Hello Fred” “Not you again Bill.” You get used to it after a while and then it seems natural.

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Freddie the Teacher

Novel, light SF, England, dystopia, violence, 2075

Non-violent Freddie can’t avoid being a violent video game character in Colchester 2075. He gets sucked into brutality and betrayal to survive. He’s an inspiring teacher which leads loyal pupils into dangerous situations which allows them to show skills and resolution. Is there any way to beat violence, disappearances, state corruption and economic collapse? If there is then Freddy has no alternative but to walk the tightrope.

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In this book I look at how violence is accepted and made acceptable, the human cost of being a leader and harnessing collective goodwill to break the cycle of retribution.

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