Publication date: May 2018
101% funded
126 backers
Cover of The Failsafe Query

The Failsafe Query is a Spy and Forensic thriller, telling the tale of Cold War spy intrigue, merged with modern day cyber intelligence.

The 'Failsafe Query’ is a thrilling novel exploring the legacy of an unknown list of Russian moles in the British establishment when it surfaces for the first time in decades.

Weeks before Intelligence Officer Alfie Chapman is due to abscond his high level British Intelligence Officer role, ready to expose grave revelations about British Government spy rings, he disappears. His plan to ‘whistle-blow’ and reveal thousands of secret files sees ex-agent Sean Richardson brought back from disgrace to find him. When Alfie is feared dead, so begins a shadowy race to find his body which holds the clues to a chest of files deadly to the world of British Intelligence activity.

The race to the body finds Richardson embroiled in a dangerous game, shadowed by dark actors’ intent to win the prize of startling information, as senior establishment figures are left to nurse their nervous anxiety. Fearful at every turn, Richardson is unaware of who knows of the mission, but feels the truth is ruthlessly buried as to why he was brought back in. He cannot trust anyone.

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career in HM Armed forces as a soldier and officer within the Corps of Royal Engineers and Defence Intelligence.  My experiences within the services involved lots of travel and adventure on operations, and also on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I both led and was involved in.

These experiences, over many decades, helped forge an indelible passion for reading about geo-political affairs and the many deeds of derring-do of British diplomats and military officers, particularly in the era of the nineteenth century ‘Great Game’.

This, alongside the larger than life characters I met, and the often intriguing world of geo-politics led me to start writing novels. The Failsafe Query is my first spy thriller and a second, The Kompromat Kill, is in the middle stages of completion. Not sure how I quite got here, & survived, but writing novels in my middle age is my new risk and adventure……!

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The rickety market stalls outside Tashkent train station were awash with loud and vibrant trading activity in the bright early morning sunshine.  Reams of noisy traffic slowly bustled their way through the massed crowds.  The dense smoke of breakfast stalls and barbeques lingered in the air as Sean greeted General Yuri with a strong handshake and pat on the back.  Sean was unshaved.  Dressed in a black T shirt, beige mountain trousers and sand brown desert boots and a large black north face rucksack.  He looked to the entire world totally out of place as a westerner amongst the large crowds of native Central Asians - all actively trading and bartering around the station.  Sean immersed himself in the quirky atmosphere but stayed sharp.  Sharp to the fact others might be watching his every move or that other intelligence agents might have latched onto Yuri being his agent, and effectively an Uzbek traitor.

Sean and General Yuri boarded the cranky old train bound for Bokhara via the great city of Samarkand - which was destined to take twenty-four hours in a small double bunk compartment situated in the second-class carriages towards the front of the train. 

Sean had nurtured his contact in the Uzbek Secret Service well.  General Yuri Yakubov, a long serving officer in the Uzbek secret service, was a vital source for the British Secret Service, considered to be a genuine player in the new Central Asian great game, able to give exactly the feel needed for the activities of terrorists and rogue nations across the region. 

Surreptitiously, the visit would be used to listen to new intelligence from Yuri.  And also to be introduced to two male agents from the criminal underworld who had now been forced into hiding away from their homelands of the fertile Ferghana valley, just south of Tashkent.  The long journey and private compartment would give Sean an opportunity to quiz Yuri on the criminal underworld activity of radiological smuggling which was happening across Central Asia. 

Sean entered the compartment, placing his rucksack on the top bunk and sat at the small table next to the window.  The carriage windows had a dusty set of curtains pulled back on an old wire hanging by its threads.  The musty smell of the compartment lingered deep in the nose.  The table held two small Uzbek bowls for drinking green chai, and a blue mosaic patterned teapot.  It wasn’t long before the train had rolled out of Tashkent on its way to the historic Islamic cities of Samarkand and Bokhara.  The wide desert landscape of the Karakum desert provided the mysterious backdrop to a lengthy period of discussion on criminal and terrorist underworld activity, in and outside of the tyrannous Uzbek regime.  Yuri didn’t stop talking.


We did it!

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

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Publication day has arrived and we did it! 

What a journey, what a team.  A massive thank you to you all - you have been magnificent.

I hope you all received your books and enjoy the story - do please share amongst your families and friends that it’s now on sale with some good reviews at goodreads

I’d be delighted if you could also add your own reviews on Amazon or Goodreads…

Nearly there .....

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Ts 2

Just a very quick update here.  Very pleased to say that the editorial, marketing, and publishing team are finishing up the novel this week - fingers crossed it will go on pre-sale on Amazon at the end of the week or early next, and then final printing begins.

The commissioning team are working towards a date of 30 May for publication day - a big day indeed where I shall heartily tuck into…

Editorial Process Now Complete

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

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Hi All,

Just a very quick update to you all ……

The manuscript has now been completed by the copy-editor, and is currently being typeset before a proof-reader completes the editorial process.  It’s been fascinating working with such talented editors – and I got some great advice from each of them especially Emma Mitchell (A thriller editor) who completed the beta read.  Most of the editing…

New Year Edits

Monday, 15 January 2018

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Happy New Year everyone!

Hope you've all had a cracking start to 2018 and wishing you all a healthy and enjoyable year ahead.

Well, the editing has been tremendous fun !

I'm just in the final throws of completing the structural edit where I have looked at every single scene in the novel to get it polished up.  I've added a few new intersting snippets, the odd couple of words that have…

A Failsafe Xmas to all...

Thursday, 21 December 2017


Hi all,

Hope everyone is well this festive period - Love Xmas!  Great in so many ways. 

Still busy on the editing over the Xmas break but it really is great fun to get into the manuscript line by line - with my editor Craig supporting and advising.  I feel as if I've learnt a huge amount through this process and the second novel shoud be much easier.

Just a quick note to thank you all…

The Failsafe Edit

Thursday, 30 November 2017


Happy Xmas season to you all!

Sorry I havent provided any updates for a while, but I'm now right into the very heart of the editing process for the novel with my editor Craig.

It's all going realy well, but incredibly time consuming and very detailed - a real experience for me as we craft and nail one heck of a story.  It's really coming alive now and I'm loving every moment of polishing…

We did it !

Sunday, 29 October 2017

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Hi everyone,

We only went and did it!  It's very hard to describe in words how I feel today - a mixture of jubilation, excitement, relief, and of course some nervousness of working with the editor to finalise the manuscript before publication. 

As I have always said, and always witnessed in my working life, teamwork is everything.  I had a dream, an idea, a yearning to write and publish…

Serendipity.......and Reprisal

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Hello everyone,

I Hope you are all well and that you've all had a great summer enjoying whatever holiday breaks you have managed to grab.  Tremendous news......we are now at 84% and the target is now firmly in sight for achieving publication !  A lifetime dream for me, and a cracking story that will finally see the colourful characters come to life.  Thanks so much for the generosity from great…

High stakes Intelligence leaks....

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Hope you're all enjoying the summer ! BBQ's, Pimms, and great Lions and Kiwi rugby so far for me !  Holiday soon which always gives me the inspiration to write more....

So great to have you all on board and a big welcome to the recent supporters who have pledged - we're just about at 70% funding which is truly fantastic - and you've all been magnificent in supporting the project and spreading…

A Killer Deal......

Saturday, 24 June 2017


Hi everyone, great to see we have now gone past the 60% mark for funding which is all very much down to you guys and girls for your generous support and huge inspiration you have given me to keep pushing towards that final 100%. We have a great bunch of supporters, from all walks of life, and its been truly inspiring to see each new indiviudal buy the book and be a patron towards its publication…

On our way - Over 54% Funded....

Friday, 9 June 2017


Hi all, I hope you're all well and safe - I've been away for a short while but now ready to crack on with the remaining hard graft to get the book to 100% !

I'm really pleased that we're now over 52% funded towards the publication of the novel - and as ever a huge thanks to you all for becoming patrons and part of the journey. We're getting there.  

A big welcome too to our most recent supporters…

The road to a query .........

Saturday, 20 May 2017


Hi all, hope everyone is well - we're at 41% this evening and I'd love to see this move onwards beyond 50% soon - Thanks so much for your support and do feel free to share this page link amongst your network and friends.

This time I thought I'd share a short excerpt featuring one of the main characters - it is - enjoy the glimpse of his persona and the troubles brewing....

Some global scenes from the book.....

Sunday, 14 May 2017


Hi everyone & a big welcome to our most recent supporters signing up and pledging.  Big, big thanks to you all as we hit the 39% mark & wonderful to have you on board helping on this journey.  I thought I'd keep you updated with some of the aspects of the book that might be intriguing people.  Always fun to share some of the novel's inner secrets to give a flavour for what will be coming your…

Latest Update - And an Introduction to the Characters

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


Well, after a tremendous start we’re doing really well raising the pledges and the supporters – great to see and so many thanks to those who have pledged so far - and a huge thanks for becoming patrons to the publication. Do feel free to promote this project amongst your networks...

I wanted to share a few thoughts in this blog page, and will start with a big thanks to someone before giving…

michael jenkins commented on this blog post.

Great Start - Big Thanks!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Big shout out, and thanks to all of you who have been the first to pledge support to the book.  It really is great to see. This has been a great start and instills confidence that we can get there! Thank you so much.

I plan to share with you here some thought, insights, and revelations on the journey the book has taken so far - and some of the complexities of both the characters and some background…

These people are helping to fund The Failsafe Query.

Alan Beeton
Brian Lunn
Geoff Adams
Mark Vent
Bryan Miller
Carlo Navato
Rebecca Jenkins
An anonymous donor
Kevin Strauther
Jason Miller
Guy Marshlain
Derek Wilson
Peter Markham
Matt Williams
Steve Duff-Godfrey
Chris Conneally
Toni Smerdon
Tim Pass
Paul Smith
Jason Ballinger
Amanda Elliott
Ian Clarkson
Glyn Hannah
Mariana Dumitrascu
Alissa Bell
Lucas Cohen
Ray Powell
Phil Paul
Guy Horne
Andy Wood
bryan osborne
Stuart Batey
Jon Washington
Clare Darbyshire
Graham Symes
Shane Deakin
Paul Potter
Jeremy Wray
Simon Cosh
Penny Carr
Nick Atkinson
Gary O'Shea
Stuart Fairnington
Joseph Burne
Mark Jackson
Malcolm Davies
Jim Blackburn
Matthew Jenkins
Robin Bennett
Mark Simpson
Chris Lambert
Sean Owen
Jim Holl
David Hirst
Ben Hawkins
Neil Manchester
Richard Mallinson
Chris Hawthorne
Bruce Springett
Katie Barber
View all supporters

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