Category Archives: Uncategorised

The Plague story continues…..

Since my last post Stranger than Fiction on 16th March, there have been even more examples of how elements of the plot of Plague are featuring in real life news.  Two weeks ago we had pharmacies hiring body guards because of attacks from members of the public attempting to access medicines or other items which were out of stock.  This happens on Page 106 of the novel! And there’s a real life procurement scandal, as reported in The Guardian, on 1st May, with an NHS manager allegedly selling PPE using his NHS contacts.  And what about those non-tendered contracts being given to companies owned by Conservative party donors, while companies expert in their field and offering their services are ignored? Not quite the level of corruption which features in the novel, but getting there.

The book is scheduled for publication on 15th September (Claret Press, £9.99) and I hope potential readers are not deterred from reading (and buying) it.  When I expressed my concerns about this on twitter recently a fellow crime/mystery writer pointed out to me that ‘Contagion’ the 2011 film about a killer pandemic is currently the most viewed film on Netflix.  So, you never know.

The novel is already available to NetGalley members at the moment, at no cost (other than the time it takes to write a review ).  If you are interested in reading it you can sign up with NetGalley, using the widget in the sidebar on this web-site. The site is digital only, but it provides versions for most of the main reading devices. If you like reading on a Kindle, Nook or ipad, why not sign up and give Plague a go?

It’s a murder mystery, with some serious points to make about power and democracy, and a lot of edge-of-the-seat thrills along the way. There is romance too and one or two plot twists which, I am told, one can’t see coming! I hope readers find its insights into the functioning of Parliament  interesting and there is also quite a foray into the little known history of a particular part of London. I won’t say which. Here is the blurb –

‘Work on a London tube line is halted by the discovery of an ancient plague pit and in it, a very recent corpse. A day later another body is found, also in a plague pit. This victim is linked to the Palace of Westminster, where rumours swirl around the Prime Minister and his rivals.
As the number of deaths climbs, the media stokes fear. Government assurances are disbelieved. Everyone feels threatened. This has to be resolved and fast.
A disgraced civil servant and a policeman must find the answer before Westminster closes for recess. Power, money and love curdle into a deadly brew that could bring down the Mother of all Parliaments.
Time is running out. And it’s not clear what – or who – will survive.’

Plague is available to read and review now on NetGalley. Log on, sign up and signal your wish to get the book. I’ll respond within twenty four hours. If you’re a media professional contact me at this site, or via twitter, for interviews, podcast and other information. If you  run a book club try using the items in the Press Kit, Author Q & A, book club discussion questions and links.

This post first featured on on 2nd May 2020.

Plague – Stranger than fiction

As COVID-19 dominates all news and social media resounds with Italians singing on balconies, Spanish applauding their health workers and the febrile UK rantings of so-called commentators I find myself in an unusual situation – and it isn’t self-isolation. Or no more than is usual for a writer, anyway.

Back in 2018 I began writing a novel, a Westminster murder mystery/thriller entitled ‘Plague‘. Without giving away too much of the plot (for which my publishers would not thank me) the story is about a potential outbreak of a strain of plague in London in 2020. The atmosphere is tense and fearful and there is a general reluctance to accept what the authorities are saying, including medical experts and the police. People believe the real facts are being withheld. Entrenched and aggressive positions on left and right don’t help and a predilection for opinions, what ever their source, which reinforce existing prejudices, heightens anxiety. Sound familiar?

None of this was new when I began writing it.

Populist politicians choosing to deny facts has given new life to the counter-enlightenment. The current President of the United States springs to mind, but there are European heads of state who do the same. This is amplified in the echo chamber of social media. We were told in the UK, by those now in government, that the British people had ‘had enough of experts’. Not such a good message now.

In medicine, Anti-Vaxxer groups illustrate how people make potentially life-changing decisions based on belief rather than on fact. It has also shown how individuals can exploit this for their own benefit. Former doctor Andrew Wakefield, barred from practising in the UK and described as fraudulent by the BMJ, made the spurious link between the MMR vaccine and child autism. This resulted in a reduction in vaccination rates and subsequent suffering and death. My villain in the novel chooses to exploit circumstances to increase his own fortune and power, despite knowing the views he encourages are false. He uses social media to help do this.

Given this anti-enlightenment push-back I wanted my book to highlight, in so far as I could within the confines of a commercial thriller, how dangerous disregarding fact and science is and how easily it can be exploited by people for their own ends. And it is, of course, a Westminster based thriller, so politics and democracy are involved. As are the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, who regularly give press conferences. Just like now.

It’s genuinely unsettling to find events, so similar to those in my tale, unfolding in real life and seeing the reactions of media, institutions and individuals to the COVID-19 virus.  Some I didn’t anticipate, being too bizarre, like the video of monkey gangs in Thailand fighting over food in the absence of food supplying tourists. Some are just too vicious, like ‘hoax’ COVID19 tweets. (Lizzie Dearden, correspondent at The Independent, received tweets from someone claiming to be infected and to have met her. Dearden knew it was a hoax because she was out of the country when the meeting supposedly took place.)

Some is horribly familiar – and irresponsible. Celebrities asked for views on something they are not qualified to comment upon or TV ‘personalities’ and the media rabble-rowsing.  As a character in my novel says ‘It’s dishonest and dangerous!’. Even as I wrote this piece the first set of demonstrators arrived outside Downing Street, to protest the ‘lack of action’ by government, something which occurs in ‘Plague’.

The number of usually well informed folk who simply don’t believe that government plans are based on science and the over-riding priority to save lives alarms me. Are they right? I don’t know.  Government communication strategy, press conferences aside, seems to be shambolic, with unattributed briefings and Ministers making statements which are obviously wrong.

It’s a new disease strain.  There is much we don’t know.  Like in the book, it’s frightening. I spent eighteen months writing a novel but in life I can’t write the ending. That’s what’s scary.

Plague‘ will be published by Claret Press in September 2020.  It will be available for review on NetGalley in April.

This post first appeared on on 13th March.

New web-site goes live!!

My new web-site can now be found at Those of you who want to receive alerts when a new blog comes out, please click on the ‘Follow’ button at the right hand side of the site.

The Story Bazaar site will still exist, but will, to an extent, be mothballed. So, if you want to access any of the blogs which you enjoyed in the past you can still do so, by typing the name of the blog into your search engine ( and adding The Story Bazaar ) and you should be directed to the article in question.  They are all still there, just not as active.  Thanks for all the comments and suggestions over the years, I hope you continue to engage with the new site.

The Story Bazaar Compendia are available on Amazon and other online book retailers and those for 2017 and 2018 will feature there shortly, as ‘e’ books and paperback, if you want a more physical reminder of The Story Bazaar.

Signing off now.  See you at the new web-site.  ‘Bye and thanks for all the good wishes.




Criminal proceedings

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Surely it can only be a matter of time? Surely! The 2016 Referendum on leaving or remaining in the EU was hopelessly compromised, with multiple breaches of the law, likely interference of a foreign, hostile state and, potentially, manipulation of … Continue reading


Festival Art 2018

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Spring 2018 – Jerez de la Frontera is very good at using its iconic and ancient buildings as venues for art. In the thirteenth century Alcazar and Cloisters of Santo Domingo, for example, the eighteenth century Palacio Pelmartin ( which … Continue reading