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Two years previously, in a book titled Smoky Bacon Crisps: Finding the Edge of Life, three men in their sixties, Roy Fox, Donnie Anderson and Henry Doncaster, challenged the social order of the nation by taking a stand against an errant authority. They fight pervasive terrorism legislation and the illicit force of law to take their case to the people, resulting in The Pensioners’ March on Glasgow.In the present book the three men are drawn into something much darker. Their elderly friend, Sidney Plunkett, had been CEO of three multinationals and in the early nineties he was one of the first to see the potential that was to become the World Wide Web. Now, at eighty-six years of age, he lives in a home for the elderly. His hobby is hacking and he delights in directing networks that breech the security of the MI5, SIS, CIA and NSA websites. But surely what he is uncovering cannot be true? Surely the recent terrorist incidents: the bombs in a hospital and the destructive sabotage of a nuclear reactor, were not orchestrated from within the British Establishment? He detects a secret organisation, Erebus, which gets its funding from various government departments. Erebus appears to be connected to an infamous university club whose members include the Prime Minister.Sidney’s friends Henry, Roy and Donnie try to help, but who will believe them in the face of a government that is intent on racking up the terror agenda. Almost daily television pronouncements by the Prime Minister stoke up a terrorist fearing reality for the British public, even labelling Roy, Donnie and Henry as terrorists and putting a price on their heads. As the three go on the run in beautiful parts of the northwest coast of Scotland they are chased by special forces agents in scenes reminiscent of Buchan’s Thirty Nine Steps. Yet the fugitives also have help from a disparate collection of ‘dissidents’, including bar manager friends, Maureen and Rosie; Nadira Khan, Oxford Don and Master of the Bench of Middle Temple; Glasgow gangster ‘Finn’ and his bodyguard, Adonis; and London gang leader Calvin Campbell who runs Newham. Other ‘insurgents’ include computer experts Mohsin and Amjad, as well as the kilt-wearing Moroccan chef Hamza Hassan, not to mention the Russian dive boat skipper, Dmitry Kovalev who falls foul of the sadistic torturer, Major Roger Winchester. Flora Campbell from Gairloch, not unlike her namesake Flora MacDonald, also plays her part, as does the community of Knoydart, north of Mallaig. Throughout Britain many others try to help, only to be thwarted by little known legislation such as the Civil Contingencies Act, akin to the USA’s ‘Patriot Act’, and equally adept at closing down ‘terrorist supporting’ newspapers as well as silencing traitorous policemen, including the enigmatic Chief Inspector Aldo Perretti. We will not disclose the plot, but mention must be given to some of the superheroes of the unfolding story, such as Lord Glendinning of Dougalston, Astraea the mysterious Goddess of Purity, and…a cuckoo.
In his working life as a British university professor Dave Mearns authored seven books in the area of psychotherapy. With sales approaching half a million copies and translations into twelve languages, his work is popular because he was able to bring out the humanity of the therapeutic relationship and the ways in which people struggled to escape from the life experiences, such as emotional abuse and trauma, that had imprisoned them. He has taken that same feel for the people and their development into two novels, Smoky Bacon Crisps: Finding the Edge of Life and Shadow State. An unusual feature of these books is that they are Action/Adventure novels where the three central characters are so-called ‘senior citizens’. Perhaps it is about time that literary fiction provided action hero models for their ‘senior’ readers! These are heroes who do not drift quietly towards old age but decide to take a stand against the abuses of political authority.Dave lives in a cottage in Scotland with his wife, Elke. Much of their time is devoted to touring the Scottish highlands in their motorhome and taking advantage of the Scottish ‘right to roam’ legislation that encourages trekking in any of its wilderness areas. They also find many reasons to visit their daughters and granddaughters in Surrey and Holland as well as following the fascinating current development of Scottish politics.