An espionage thriller set in an alternative late 19th century London.
It is 1896. In an alternative history where Babbage’s difference engines have become commonplace Captain Charles Maddox, wrongly convicted of a murder and exiled to military service in Canada eight years ago to avoid prosecution, is illegally returning to Britain to visit his dying father.
Recognised by an old acquaintance connected to the murder, Maddox is challenged to a duel and, returning to an old haunt, is caught up in a raid by the paramilitary Bureau of Engine Security. He is arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in a high security cell at Millbank gaol, to be held there, awaiting the death sentence he had previously avoided.
Instead, he is rescued by a covert agency called the Map Room. Maddox is given the choice of taking his chances with the Bureau or joining the Map Room as an agent and helping them uncover a possible conspiracy surrounding the 1888 Ripper murders. Seeing little choice, Maddox accepts the offer. Under the codename Sterling, he joins the team of fellow agents Church and Green, controller Collier and in-house mechanical computer expert, or ‘tapper’, Patience. Overseeing them all is the well-to-do, well-connected and frighteningly well-informed head of the Map room, whom Maddox knows only as Milady.
With help from the Map Room team, Maddox (now Agent Sterling) and Church’s investigation takes them from a tour of the Ripper murder sites to an upmarket teaching hospital, and from a criminal fixer in the East End of London to the fringes of Blackpool nightlife.
Along the way Church and Sterling uncover a years-old and closely-guarded conspiracy deep within the Bureau, and one that its members will go to any lengths to protect. Success depends on the two of them quickly forging a successful partnership as agents and following the trail wherever, and to whomever, it leads. In doing so they can put the Ripper murders and the conspiracy surrounding them to rest once and for all.
“Gentlemen. Before we proceed, I must ask you both whether you are willing to resolve this dispute by any other means?”
The fog that clung to the concrete surface of the platform was given a pale glow by the first light of an early dawn. Burns, my second, could barely be seen where he stood, scarf wrapped across his face, in the shadow of a black iron pillar some way beyond me, a little further than the distance I would have to walk. It said much about the length of my absence from London society that the only second I could find at short notice was the man known about the Club as ‘Secondary’ Burns, a man who had, to my knowledge, offered his services as duelling assistant to eight of our fellow members, each and every one of whom had subsequently been unsuccessful in their aim.
No wordplay intended.
A limited-edition print, by Jove!
Saturday, 13 April 2019
A big thanks to everyone who has pledged so far. It looks like the Super Patron Paperback is the most popular choice, and a very fine one too, combining paperback and digital editions and a mention at the front of the book.
For those who like a little illustration alongside their historical-sci-fi-thrills I thought I would share a little more about the Limited Edition Print that is on offer for…
The game's afoot!
Saturday, 30 March 2019
Wow! Well the project is off to a great start with 27% of the target raised in the first ten days, which is really heartening for a first-time novelist, first-time Unbounder and even a first-time crowdsourcer.
I didn’t know what to expect and, to be honest, I was pretty surprised when Unbound agreed to take me on as an author. I mean, I think the Sterling Directive is good (but I would say that…
These people are helping to fund The Sterling Directive.