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‘One of my favourite restaurants in London is the Laughing Halibut,’ I say as we eat our lunch in Vienna. ‘When I first started eating there in 1979, it was run by this Italian guy, and one of his sons used to work there, a young bloke. Now, the son is still there, he seems to run the place, but he has become a much older man.’
’40 years is a long time, I guess,’ my friend says. ‘The Italian has aged. But you have stayed the same.’
‘Correct! It’s like that Joe Walsh song, Life’s been good to me so far. Great lyrics. It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame, he sings. Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed. Best fish and chips in central London.’
A delicious portion of chips from the Laughing Halibut – RP
I often think of the Laughing Halibut, and would recommend it to anyone visiting or living in London. In fact, I like it so much that it features in a key scene in a novel of mine, which is on ice at present but might see the light of day in a couple of years. The scene also features a phlegmatic Italian waiter.
The scene (which I have lightly edited, for reasons too complex to explain here) is as follows. Angus Fairfax, the protagonist of the book, is meeting his wife Rosie for lunch.
Excerpt from an unpublished novel
Rosie and I had instituted regular Monday lunches when she was promoted – again – twelve months before. ‘You must be in the diary,’ she’d said. ‘Otherwise, I’ll never see you.’
She’d been right. These days, most of our conversations seemed to take place in the Laughing Halibut in Strutton Ground.
Strutton Ground was a curious street. (more…)
The US President, British Prime Minister, German Chancellor, Russian President and other G8 leaders are taken hostage by terrorists at a summit in Berlin.
Rescue is impossible.
One after another, hostages are executed at point-blank range, killings streamed live, bodies left on show for fifteen minutes to prove that they are dead.
Then the U.S. President is thrown into the killing chair – and shots ring out.
Who is to blame for this cataclysm? Who can resolve the crisis – against a background of terrorist demands which seem impossible to meet, yet which have demonstrators massing outside the Reichstag to support the hostage-takers? (more…)
Here is the text of Chapter 5 of my Berlin thriller Blood Summit.
“In which Helen Gale gets into even more trouble.”
The Reichstag dome. Warning: bad things happen here in “Blood Summit”
BLOOD SUMMIT: CHAPTER 5
Helen watched Sir Leonard Lennox grow angry. It was a rare, but frightening sight. Even when the ambassador was calm, his rugged features tended to darken in response to obstacles or unreason. Now, the combination of brilliant white bandages and a choleric outburst made his face look black with rage.
‘They say what?‘
Basil Nutter grimaced, glanced around the conference table and said nothing. Decades of experience in the back rooms of embassies from Abidjan to Yerevan had left the wizened but career-challenged diplomat equipped with two convictions. The first was that the key to a contented life was to avoid drawing attention to yourself. The second was that efforts by governments to influence the media were at best pointless and in most cases counter-productive. Basil was arguably, therefore, ill-fitted to the job of embassy press officer. He seemed physically to have shrunk as the Summit loomed. This morning’s blast had left his brow, and his suit, more deeply creased than ever.
Helen had been thinking of the injured child in the street. She saw Basil’s plight and intervened.
‘Ambassador,’ she said. ‘You need a cigarette. Possibly two.’
‘First sensible idea I’ve heard all day.’ A lighter and a packet of Benson and Hedges were in the ambassador’s big hands in an instant. ‘And before you say anything, Jason, this is an emergency. Since the windows have been blown out by a terrorist bomb, we’re technically outside anyway.’
Jason Short said nothing, but looked at the overwhelmingly intact windows and pursed his lips.
The ambassador lit a cigarette, blew a stream of smoke towards the ceiling, and turned to Basil. (more…)
I shall not try to summarise 2017 (thank God, I hear you cry): every journalist on earth is doing that.
Instead, I have chosen my favourite ten posts, out of the 47 I published in 2017. Which is your favourite? Let me know. And feel free to re-post this on Facebook or to “like” it – if you do.
A novelty this year was my Picture Quiz – not including this picture from Cuba. Spot the Che Guevara tattoo
It wasn’t easy choosing a shortlist. I’ve left out many favourites, including my account of how, aged 8, I used to electrocute myself regularly with my girlfriend Barbara in Wonder Woman and Wartime Moral Confusion; or my recent review of The Last Jedi 3/10: the galaxy’s most shagged-out designers? (more…)
Here is Chapter 4 of my Berlin thriller Blood Summit.
The Reichstag dome. Warning: bad things happen here in “Blood Summit”
How did Dieter Kremp, Deputy Head of the Summit Security Unit and a macho package of anger, “exquisite, toned musculature” and chauvinism, become the lover of Helen Gale – a Cambridge-educated top diplomat? How did the US Secret Service almost stop the Summit happening?
Find out now.
BLOOD SUMMIT: CHAPTER 4
As he ran towards the Summit Security Unit command bunker, Dieter Kremp was reminded with a jolt how much he hated the logo for the Children’s Summit. A Berlin bear on its back, for Christ’s sake, balancing a cute kid on each of its sharp-clawed paws. The bear was grinning playfully – hungrily, more like – as it performed this unnatural act.
Wonderful news and äußerst schön. My Berlin thriller Blood Summit is now up on Amazon, both as an e-book and as a paperback – I’ve seen, and signed, a copy. Both look terrific, thanks to Ken and Kate over at Creative Covers.
If you enjoy Blood Summit, feel free to leave a review an Amazon, repost my facebook posts, retweet my tweets, or do anything else to spread the word. The greatest challenge faced by any author is bringing her or his book – however brilliant – to the attention of people who might enjoy it.
I’ll be doing my bit on this blog and elsewhere, but all help gratefully received.
I will also be happy to sign paperback copies – these first editions will obviously be priceless collector’s items in years to come.
Potsdamer Platz – Helen Gale lives in a flat here (photo RP)
Meanwhile I shall continue to publish excerpts from the novel.
Chapter 3 develops the conflict between Helen Gale and her boss, Jason Short, and introduces several new characters including:
– Ram Kuresh: the only avowedly gay member of the Secret Intelligence Service Office in Berlin. (more…)
In the last couple of weeks I have posted the prologue and first chapter of my new thriller, Blood Summit.
This week comes Chapter 2. Get to know Uli Wenger, the mastermind behind the plot to seize the Reichstag. What drives him? Why does he detonate a bomb outside the British Embassy in Berlin? You decide.
The full text of Chapter 2 is below. Or you can read all the excerpts published on this blog together at my new Blood Summit page.
One other big piece of news.
The complete thriller Blood Summit is now available on Amazon. On Friday 1 December I uploaded both the e-book version (suitable for Kindle) and, for the first time in my experience, a paperback version. The e-book is already available at the link above. The paperback seems to take longer to appear; I will let you know when it does.
I have worked long and hard on Blood Summit, both to write the novel (a big job) and to prepare it for publication. It is a wonderful moment to be able to make it available to readers. I hope you enjoy it. Anything you can do to draw the book to the attention of potential readers will of course be welcome.
Blood Summit: the cover
Here is the text of Chapter 2. Thoughts, comments and re-posts welcome!
It was not accident but design which made Uli Wenger so hard to see. His disguise was brilliant. Only one person in the crowd could recognise him. She would never tell a soul.
More marchers were appearing. The merciless punctuality made planning easy. Uli was in control. In thirty-six hours, he would hold a knife to the throat of the world. A few hours after that, the world would embrace him as its saviour. (more…)