SEANS BOOK REVIEWS
My new novel, The Lazarus Charter, features the same two main
characters as in my previous book – married couple Bob and Anne
This time they have to contend with the possibility that one of
their friends – a professor — may have faked his own death in a
blazing car. As they probe more deeply into incidents surrounding
the scientist’s demise, they stir up a hornet’s nest which leads to
their lives being threatened by intelligence agents and they are
eventually forced to flee their home in Kent.
But I like to think The Lazarus Charter is more than a spy thriller.
There is the emotional conflict spanning the early pages of the
book between Bob, who believes his professor friend may have
faked his death, and Anne, who dismisses this as being illogical and
There is also romance. Anne’s friend, the journalist Prunella Ball,
pursues a new love interest in the book, creating short-term relief
amid the mounting tension which I hope the main storyline
Detective Sergeant Graham Kirwan – the policeman with a fund of
treasured Irish sayings derived from his beloved mother – makes at
least three appearances. This is intended to help create light-hearted
moments. And animal lovers will hopefully be pleased to witness the
return of Fiesta, the loveable black cat that was found as a stray in
the first book, Smile Of The Stowaway.
Much of the action takes place in the beautiful countryside of a
Kentish summer, although the storyline also encompasses visits to a
range of other locations – including Camden, Tewkesbury, Redhill,
Andover, Salisbury, Hampstead, Edinburgh, Bedford and Burford.
But the main focus of the story this time concerns Anne’s actions
as an amateur investigator, spearheading a search for a missing
colleague of the professor’s and determining how the professor’s
fake death may have been staged.
The idea for writing The Lazarus Charter came to me in February
2019. I was waiting on a London Underground platform when a train
came in. One of the passengers stepping off slightly resembled a
friend of mine. It would have been an amazing coincidence if it had
been my friend, I thought, and, of course, we would have stopped
and had a chat.
But then I wondered what would happen if someone spotted a
friend on a train who couldn’t possibly be there — since they were no
longer alive. Someone whose funeral they’d attended.
This became the starting point for my novel. In my mind, teacher
Bob Shaw became the man standing on the Underground platform
and his close friend Professor Gus Morley became the man on the
I went home and the next day, as soon as I started writing, the
rest of the plot simply fell into place. Three months later, in May of
last year, the first draft was completed.
Much of the later parts of the novel have been influenced by the
wave of poisoning incidents that have occurred over the past two
decades – incidents involving foreign agents who seem to believe
they can act without regard for the law.
Like so many people, I have been outraged at the way these
agents have been free to smuggle deadly, unstable poisons into
Britain and then use them to eliminate the lives of their enemies.