February 7

Stormy Clouds Gather over Italy

Cumulonimbus clouds are those rising columns of unstable air that you often sea on a hot summer’s day. In 3 WISE MEN, Jak’s flight from Rome is directed away from these ‘serpent heads’ soon after takeoff. Let’s pick up the conversation between the control tower in Rome (at Fiumicino Airport) and Jak’s flight.

[“Fiumicino tower, Alitalia ten-twenty-six. Climb and maintain thirty-two-thousand.”

“Up to thirty-two-thousand, Alitalia ten-twenty-six,” Captain Bruno replied.

“Roger, flight ten-twenty-six. Head three-two-zero to Genoa to avoid cumulonimbus storms building over Tuscany. Genoa will guide you into Milan. Have a pleasant flight, ten-twenty-six.”

“Copy, Fiumicino. Roger and out.”

As they leveled off, the cockpit brought an update.

“This is Captain Bruno speaking. We have now reached a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet and are on a heading that follows the Italian coast to Genoa. This will take us away from bouncy air over the Apennine Mountains. Although we have clear skies ahead of us, we advise all passengers to remain seated with your seat belts fastened.

“Expected landing time in Milan is now 4:15pm and local weather is cloudy with a ground temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. Rain is forecast for later in the evening. I will give you an update closer to our arrival. Now please sit back and enjoy your flight.”

He turned to the Co-pilot.

“It’s all yours from here.”

“Thank you, Captain.”

Captain Bruno released the controls, sat back in his seat and scanned ahead to a large expanse of blue sky. At 1 o’clock, a bank of dark-gray clouds rose above the horizon, their billowing serpent heads appearing angry through his polarized glasses. To his trained eye, they seemed stationary and too distant to bother them.

“It should be a comfortable flight,” he announced confidently, unaware of the severity and speed of the brewing storm – ]

3 WISE MEN is available in Kindle or paperback format from Amazon.

January 28

The Yellow E-Type Jag

This yellow E-Type Jaguar looks the part – on show in front of the muted tones of an Italian village perhaps? However, I saw the E-Type in 3 WISE MEN in a softer yellow.

If there is one part of 3 WISE MEN that seems to leave a lasting impression on my readers, it is the section that includes the classic yellow E-Type Jaguar car. I won’t give too much away, but this car becomes a symbol of freedom for Jak and yet also a crisis in his life. Here’s a small extract from 3 WISE MEN.

[A yellow E-Type Jaguar pulled up with its wire-wheels flashing brightly.

“Jak! Hop in!”
He stepped off the footpath and into the passenger seat.
“Nina! I am pleased to see you!”

Jak listened to the purr of the six-cylinder engine and reclined all the way back on his generous leather seat. “Thanks for picking me up, but how did you know when I would exit of the hotel?”

Jak paused to take in what Nina said and closed his eyes. He sank into the comfort of the car and its quiet ride. In a short time, he was snoring. Nina rubbed her hand through his curly hair and smiled.
“Sleep well, Jak.”
She eased off the accelerator, and they motored leisurely into the late afternoon sun, its orange glow radiating like a raging fire across the distant sky. She felt relaxed and pleased with herself.

Nina nudged the E-Type along the coastal route, skirting the industrial hub of Genoa. The exhaust growled when she put her foot to the accelerator to ascend up the Alpes-Maritimes freeway. They climbed past small villages and deeper into the rugged terrain and finally pulled over near the summit. Nina’s sunglasses reflected her view across an expansive massif of rolling peaks—their aged and bare ridgelines bent like knuckles, rolling steeply to the sea. She imagined a photographer posing her in the perfect position—dark glasses, yellow E-Type against a warm orange sunset.

“Click.”

“Elizabeth Taylor would have been jealous,” she whispered.

Jak found it awkward to climb out of the low seat, relieved to stretch his legs and inhale the cool coastal breeze.
“Wait!”
Nina reached over her seat and fetched a shopping bag. She handed it to Jak. “Here are some things I got for you on my way to the hotel.”
“Thanks! You think of everything,” Jak replied.

By this time, a small group had gathered to admire the classic car.

“Amazing for an old girl,” thought Jak. “She still turns heads wherever she goes.” He smiled to the onlookers and paraded past them—feeling like a movie star on the red carpet.]

Yes indeed – a car that turns heads. I have sat in an E-Type and it enfolds you in a position just above the road – very confined when compared with modern SUVs! This particular E-Type occupies a pivotal space in 3 WISE MEN – one that ratchets up the tension even more for Jak. 3 WISE MEN is available in Kindle or paperback format from Amazon.

January 12

The Chase through Monaco

“He accelerated around the waterfront, passing between the rows of opulent apartments on his left and super yachts in the marina to his right. People on the sidewalk turned their heads in reaction to the loud disruption. Léo ignored them. He threw the bike from side to side up the Boulevard Albert, frantically searching for an escape route.

Jak felt sick.

To regain his equilibrium, he focused on the distant hills and glimpses of the Mediterranean—wondering if this nightmare would finish without them both being killed.

“Where can I escape?” Léo asked himself.

He lowered his speed and turned tightly into Rue Grimaldi.  Near the top of the rise, he paused alongside a bronze statue of the winning entry into Monaco’s first Grand Prix. The life-size driver—Grover Williams—was in racing mode and leaning over, as if looking at something. Léo looked too.

“Of course,” Léo yelled, “there’s a pedestrian underpass!””

January 6

“I need painkillers and more rest.”

“My stupid head!” he thought. “I need painkillers and more rest.”

You would too, after going through what Jak did! No wonder his decision-making soon get blurred after his flight leaves Rome, heading for his meeting in Milan.

Italy is a rugged country, with a spine of mountains reaching out of The Alps like the arm of an octopus. These peaks – known as The Apennines – can play havoc with weather patterns over Italy – as Jak soon finds out.

Read more in 3 WISE MEN.

January 3

Who wrote this fake news?

“… His head slumped to read the unfolded note in his hand.

“I would recognize my wife’s handwriting anywhere. Who wrote this lie?”

He crushed the paper as the truth exploded on him.
“Someone has set me up! Who? Did they follow me?” …”

In the opening paragraphs of 3 WISE MEN, Jak is confounded and can’t figure out whether he was being set up. This dilemma – in a foreign country and on the run – reminded me a little of Rodin’s statue – ‘The Thinker’.

Jak – like The Thinker – is deep in thought as he tries desperately to solve the puzzle and resolve his predicament. Everything around him is a swirling mess and he has to get to his meeting as quickly as possible. What a great way to start a thriller?

January 1

Could it be The Vatican?

“Who do you represent?” I asked him.
“That was a good question, Pierre. Did you find out?”
“He said it did not concern me. I asked him if it was the church.”

David was even more curious, “And?”

“The priest said I should ask no more questions, but that he represented sovereign monarchy—one who had absolute power. Well, it got me thinking. Who has that kind of unfettered control?”

David looked puzzled and asked,  “Who, indeed?”

“Yes, an absolute power who would not give up their secrets or allow anyone to steal or copy them. I wondered if he meant the Vatican, but was too scared to ask. Who else could it be? Then he told me to stop all my research in Florence. His exact words were, ‘Halt all investigations if you value your life.’”

The extract above is from 3 WISE MEN and suggests that other groups are also after Jak’s secret formula. But, who are these religious zealots? Does the priest indeed represent The Vatican – a state that has absolute power and doesn’t want it to be lost to meddling researchers like Jak and his friends? Read 3 WISE MEN to read more about this mysterious and unexpected meeting.

December 29

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name – a character’s name, that is? In 3 WISE MEN the protagonist, Jak Daniels, was a very simple name to think up – a name, like the author’s, that causes confusion and mistaken identity. Jak meets a woman on the train – and her name is Sasha. In the early draft she had a different name – an older name, and one less fitted to her young looks and outgoing personality. ‘Sasha’ fitted her persona better and it was a name that worked well alongside ‘Jak’. But I wanted to mention another name used in 3 WISE MEN – Ambrose. His name was, in the first instance, ‘Ambroise’. One reader commented that he found it difficult to say ‘Ambroise’ correctly. Therefore, I reverted to the simpler spelling – ‘ Ambrose’. Again, this small revision made the text much easier to read. Finally, and one that I struggled with, was the name of Jak’s dog. I laugh thinking about it, because the first manuscript had a glaring error – I had given Jak’s dog three different names! Yes, names in a novel are important and need to provide – for a thriller at least- a measure of contrast and good (or bad) character-fit. The names of our 3 daughters also appear in the book, which was a nice touch to honor them. Another name – Andrea – was used (with permission) following a very special tour around Milan by someone of the same name. It took quite a while to come up with names that matched, but I do hope you find the names used in 3 WISE MEN appealing.

December 27

3 WISE MEN 2nd Edition is Launched!

3 WISE MEN is now available in a 2nd Edition-released for 2019. This new version has approximately 10 more pages. It has the same action-packed plot with a few typos fixed and more detail added in a few places; plus one more final chapter. At over 80,000 words, 3 WISE MEN continues to be a thriller that is ‘difficult to put down’ and has received rave reviews. Yours for just under a few cups of coffee, or less for the Kindle version. 3 WISE MEN, 2nd Edition, is available from Amazon at this link.

November 7

Spine-tingling action in 3 WISE MEN

Yes, it is very encouraging to get such great feedback on the tension and pace that keeps readers of 3 WISE MEN engaged and unable to put the book down! One reader commented that the book had no title on the spine. I agreed that this was an oversight and remedied it by making a change to the cover to include the spine. But then I discovered something very interesting – bookstores have to show the front cover when there is no text on the spine. Therefore, I decided to drop the spine text and leave it blank – an action that suits a thriller in some ways. Therefore, dear readers, 3 WISE MEN now has a blank spine – all the spine-tingling action is in the body of the book! Even the Chapters section is deleted too. Why? Since it added nothing to the plot or layout and took up space. You will notice that 3 WISE MEN is now just less than 80,000 action-packed words.