Dark materials…

Dark materials...
Kent author Tony Basset

I’ve been a journalist for nearly four decades. I first became interested in writing at the age of nine, when I edited a magazine at my Sevenoaks junior school – St Thomas’s – and then went on to edit the magazine at The Skinners’ School.

After working for many years in Fleet Street, I decided to turn my hand to writing novels. I published my first one, Smile of the Stowaway, a couple of years ago, and have just had my second book, The Lazarus Charter, published.

It was inspired by a visit to London and my personal shock at the wave of poisoning deaths in Britain.

Regarding the first of these factors, I was waiting on an Underground platform early last year when a train drew in. One passenger resembled a friend. I immediately wondered what would happen if someone went to a man’s funeral and then, a few weeks later, saw that same man on a train.

This became the starting point for my novel. In my mind, teacher Bob Shaw – who featured in Smile of the Stowaway – became the man on the platform, and his close friend, Professor Gus Morley, became the man on the train.

I went home, and the next day as soon as I started writing the rest of the plot began to fall into place. I was strongly influenced at this time by memories of the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko and the Wiltshire novichok poisonings. So I decided Russian intelligence agents would feature at some point.

Gradually, the novel took shape, and three months later – in May of last year – the first draft was finished.

Along with Bob, the book features his wife Anne, who has a flair for detective work.

The pair decide the professor must have faked his own death. But, as they probe more deeply, they stir up a hornet’s nest which leads to their lives becoming imperilled.

However, I hope the novel is more than just a spy thriller and contains other important elements of contemporary fiction.

There is the emotional conflict between Bob, who is convinced his friend is still alive, and Anne, who initially dismisses this as being absurd.

There is romance. Anne’s friend, the journalist Prunella Ball, pursues a new love interest in the book, creating short-term relief amid the mounting tension. And Detective Sergeant Kirwan – the policeman with a fund of treasured Irish sayings – reappears, along with the black cat Fiesta, a favourite of animal lovers.

Much of the action takes place in the beautiful countryside of a Kentish summer, although the storyline also encompasses many other home counties locations.

I hope readers enjoy the mystery, Anne’s detective work, the thrill and danger as well as the elements of humour.

The book is dedicated to Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London in 2006, and Dawn Sturgess, the innocent mother-of-three who died from novichok poisoning in Salisbury in 2018.

 I’m delighted that both Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander, and Dawn’s parents, Stan and Caroline, have been very supportive following the book’s publication.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter