With a unique marketing concept from independent publisher Pedant Books, the cover of this debut novel perfectly portrays its title. Indeed, what does lie within? First there are the credits. Reflecting his Swedish, German and British heritage and his ever-changing mood, RA – as he likes to be known – wrote the chapters of this novel in Swedish, German, pigeon English and decent English (but not the Queen’s). In total, this required a full complement of seven translators; all are listed for their sterling work.
What Lies Within is a story based on RA’s own life as the perpetual victim of crime. We kick off with our protagonist, thirteen year old Evan Sumner, kidnapped from his expensive private school. His parents are faced with a ransom demand of 2m US$. They deliver – it’s small fry to parents in the shipping industry – and await the return of their son. However, instead of their son, they receive a further demand for another 5m US$. This continues on a weekly basis for varying amounts, until a total of 100m US$ is paid over and Evan returns home. Mr and Mrs Sumner hardly recognise their boy with his deeper voice and waist-length curly hair.
Fearful for his security, Evan undergoes some cosmetic surgery and is given a new identity before he continues his schooling at Eton. A little later than most, he then goes to Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and he harbours a deep ambition to be on the winning team on University Challenge. However, he develops a drug habit and starts up his own business which causes turf warfare to break out between rival suppliers, right outside the famous John Radcliffe Hospital. This is where the real action starts as Evan – now George Ploddington – is forced to sobriety and reform in order to save his life.
As each experience unfolds, it becomes obvious that time and time again, Evan/George and later Howard has been set up by the psychopath, The Similator. To survive, Evan/George/Howard needs to identify him and dispose of him.
Moving from Gothenburg to Singapore, the Bahamas, Japan, Africa, Russia, Slough and Milton Keynes, and coming in at a thumping 771 pages, this is a cracking thriller. Don’t miss it.
RA prefers to retain an air of mystery and will not be doing any publicity for the book. He expects the Sunday Times to try and locate and identify him, but he says he has this covered. His publisher notes that a short video presentation will be available on the net shortly, although RA’s face will be covered. I understand this is because he is not looking too good after years of cosmetic surgery. Today, RA is mainly at sea, pursuing his anti-pirate campaign, “Eradicate Piracy”, for which he hopes to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 after achieving his goal.
And yes, this is April Fool’s Day!