I'm absolutely thrilled to welcome back a super dooper talented author and all around lovely person to the blog today, who's celebrating the release of their latest book! They've written me another fantastic blog piece and I think you're going to love it!
Julie Anderson worked in Westminster and Whitehall for a variety of government departments and agencies, including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This informed her first successful political thriller, 'Plague'. She is currently writing the third in the series of novels featuring investigator Cassandra Fortune. Julie is Chair of Trustees of Clapham Writers, responsible for the annual Clapham Book Festival.
Follow Julie here!
Blood calls for blood.
Near the ancient Temple of Apollo, environmentalists protest outside an international conference. Inside, business lobbyists mingle with politicians, seeking profit and influence. Then the charismatic leader of the protest goes missing.
The next day a body is discovered, placed like an offering to the gods. One day later a broken corpse is found at the foot of the cliffs from which blasphemers were once tossed to their deaths.
As a storm closes in and strange lights are seen on the mountain, the conference centre is cut off. Is a killer stalking its corridors? Or are primal forces reaching out from the past? Like the cryptic Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra Fortune must supply the answers before the conference is over. And before more die.
Justice will be done, but what kind of justice?
When Worlds Collide
by Julie Anderson
Perhaps it's the clash between different world views, or a physical conflict, like a war or a revolution; sometimes it might be between the past and the present, the old and the new, but collision and conflict are the staples of fiction writing. It might be the domestic and every day, an argument between a mother and son, for example - Sons and Lovers, or between brothers - Cain and Abel ( I couldn't resist, I bet that's the only time Geoffrey Archer gets bracketed with D.H.Lawrence ). On the other hand characters could be caught up in great national and international conflicts - War and Peace, A Tale of Two Cities and even Gone With The Wind have war or revolution as their backdrop. Sometimes it is reality and fiction which collide.
I am currently writing the third book in a series of thriller mysteries centred on the character of Cassandra Fortune, Whitehall investigator extraordinaire, the second of which, Oracle, is published on 5th May 2021. The first Plague (Claret Press, 2020) was set in the world of Westminster, of high politics and low sleaze, about a series of murders in strange circumstances during a 'plague panic'. It was the pandemic aspect which drew comparisons with real events at the time of the earlier article, but another aspect has drawn even more attention since. The novel depicted corruption and cronyism - 'You're ensuring the contracts go to the right companies so you can reward your friends and allies' says my heroine to the villain (p246).
Now real life seems, again, to be mirroring events in the book. So opposition politicians and the press point the finger at the cronyism of the current Johnson government of the UK in the awarding of public contracts worth millions of pounds to friends and allies, without due process. The latest scandal is called 'Greensill' and shows the involvement of a former PM and a current Chancellor in, apparently, doing a favour for a political friend. One critic, V.B.Grey, wrote of Plague 'an authoritative insider view of modern power politics that is all too frighteningly prescient'. It seems to be becoming more so.
Reality and fiction seem to be colliding in Oracle too. As Plague explored power politics and corruption, Oracle explores different types of justice - blood vengeance rather than punishment under the law, the twisting of the legal system by politics, the politicisation of the police. It is set in Delphi, Greece. During Autumn of 2020, as I was writing it, the Athens Appeal Court ruled that Golden Dawn, the former neo-fascist political party with seats in the Greek parliament and links to organised crime was, in fact, a criminal organisation wrapping itself in the mantle of politics. What is worrying is that an earlier investigation by the UN found that, in some areas, up to 40% of police were members of Golden Dawn. How would that distort the justice system?
Look no further for another real life example of politics distorting justice than the United States and the difference in treatment of the insurrectionists on 6th January (Trump prevented the use of the National Guard) and the Black Lives Matter protesters at the end of last year (Trump sent in federally funded private security 'police'). If the police and policing are politicised in this way and result in some receiving preferential treatment, justice will suffer for all, something my heroine says in Oracle. So far, so relevant and topical.
Yet there is another collision in Oracle, that between the past and the present. The novel is set in Delphi high on Mount Parnassus near the ancient Temple of Apollo. Humans have dwelt there for over five thousand years, worshipping first the 'Great Mother' Gaia, then Apollo. Having visited, long before COVID, I can attest to the sense of the divine still lying close to the surface in that place, which is spectacular and beautiful.
In the book the investigation begins when a murdered body is found in the temple precinct, placed like an offering to the gods. One day later a recent, broken corpse is found at the foot of the cliffs from where blasphemers were once tossed to their deaths. A character goes to the Temple to summon the Erinyes, the Furies, to hunt down a murderer, seeking blood justice. Is this a modern murder mystery or are primal forces reaching out from the past? Like the cryptic Oracle of Delphi, my heroine must supply the answer before the conference is over so that law, not vengeance triumphs.
I named my heroine Cassandra, though she says she cannot tell the future - if she could there would be no mystery. Given that real life keeps catching up with events in my novels, however, I'm starting to wonder.
Oracle was published by Claret Press on 5th May 2021.
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