Sunday 16 April 2017

The Art of the Familiar

The first book (only in full draft): The Art of the Familiar...

..Is a slice of life in London in the present day; it is a thriller with some unusual knobs on. As the reader soon gets to realise London is caught in the opening moments of momentous change marked by the presentiment of a storm that takes just three days to arrive: 

It’s a Saturday. Ben Walton, 27 years old wakes up early. For the sake of argument, it is September 2018. Ben is clever, self-conscious, articulate and reasonably comfortable in his skin. He lives in south London and has the world in front of him but today he is in a torn mood and apprehensive. Not happy in his work particularly, notably cynical about the state of play of the world, he is sensing that his three-year relationship with his girlfriend is foundering, perhaps has foundered…He is not particularly wedded to living in London much longer…and struggles to find a way to make sense of his life and give it purpose. And it’s still only breakfast time.

He decides to do something completely different and heads out of town, leaving the decision as to where to chance, but limiting himself to a 50-mile radius of the capital. Last moment he decides to take a bag with some clothes, and enough essentials for overnight if adventure serves him. He takes a nondescript towable travel bag; stows his passport too, decides to leave his mobile behind and then changes his mind. Finally, he goes.

What he doesn’t realise is that at this very moment, and courtesy of his own arbitrary action, he is about to become pinioned in a web of extraordinary danger, at the centre of which is a very powerful man; someone whose own ease and exceptional reach of control is in the process of being shaken to the core.

This is a thriller which builds to a novel of our times (state-of-nation) and the action takes place over just three days and ends a minute before midnight on Monday. At the end of the book I leave the reader waiting for more, wondering how to or where to turn the last page. I propose a chapter of the second book is appended to this one. The purpose is very calculated: to engage a massive audience because I deal with some major globally important issues, which form the context of this book.

As a tempter, the book unfolds how a few characters, but exceptionally few, know how to manipulate digital media and data to suit and construct their very defined purposes; data and media that would normally only be within the tight province of the banks and the Government. An alternative name for the book might be The Cyber Web, but the current working title for this book stands, I hope.

The arc of the narrative is a north/south axis – a kind of rough trouser crease between London and Brighton, ironed by the history of events and evoked by both roads and rails and real places. Given the speed, of events (sometimes exceptionally visceral) and their contemporary nature, the book is partly about the nature of safety – there are constant allusions to the thinness of doors. The book is frightening but in a careful way, with strong characters at work, mostly in turmoil. Alleviation of a kind comes from a nascent love story, strong sexual tensions while this is tempered by the sense that the hapless victims of this three-day event could be you.

This book is ready to read for selected publishers.

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