Friday, 29 May 2015

John Altman on Disposable Asset and Edward Snowden

©John Altman
Today’s guest blog post is by thriller writer John Altman whose latest novel Disposable Asset, takes place against the backdrop of ongoing brinksmanship with Putin’s Russia.  His article for Shotsblog is about modern surveillance and Edward Snowden, which links into the themes of his latest novel.

Western intelligence agencies, Edward Snowden has revealed, are not only infiltrating Islamic extremist groups and Russian sleeper cells; they’re also watching you, model citizen and responsible taxpayer, via the webcam and software already installed on the computer you bought at your local neighborhood superstore.

Or at least, they might be.

Whether you consider Snowden patriot or traitor, hero or narcissist – or, perhaps, all of the above – there’s no denying that his revelations drive home the uneasy inverse relationship between privacy and security. Other post-9/11 disclosures have raised similar issues: suspected enemies of the state have been detained indefinitely without trial, subjected to so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’; the USA PATRIOT act has authorized roving wiretaps and government searches of business records. But these phenomena remain comfortably removed from the typical personal experience, and thus more firmly situated in the realm of theory. Snowden’s leaks, by contrast, hit the average Westerner where he or she lives – in front of his or her computer.

In my new novel Disposable Asset, Edward Snowden is not mentioned once by name, but his presence is felt on every page. Asset evokes Snowden explicitly, telling the story of an American defector who has fled to Russia with a cache of classified documents that expose intelligence overreaching, where, having been offered sanctuary by the Kremlin, he is murdered by a CIA assassin.

The book also confronts deeper implications raised by the cutting-edge technologies Snowden has revealed. As a manhunt develops for the assassin, we witness firsthand how, in the information age, privacy has become an antiquated concept. Cell phones are remotely accessed without users’ knowledge; facial recognition software combs through endless surveillance camera and quadrocopter drone footage; spy satellites with a resolution of five centimeters reconnoiter the earth’s surface from thousands of miles above; infrared cameras and parabolic microphones eavesdrop through walls and closed doors; the scantest traces of blood, skin or hair lead to complete DNA profiles, with the chances of different individuals sharing identical profiles one in one billion.

But pointing out the scary efficiency of modern surveillance tells only half of the story – for the book also describes a reenergized Russian Empire, a reinvigorated network of secret prison camps in Siberia, and a ruthless and determined inner circle at a Kremlin that harbors little respect for human rights and none whatsoever for civil liberties. The question Disposable Asset ultimately poses, then, is which manifests the greater danger to the West: the external threat of a Russia that resembles ever more closely an artifact from the Cold War, or the creeping internal threat posed by the compromising of personal freedoms in the name of national security?

Of course this particular balancing act, between external threat and internal rights, is nothing new. But as intelligence gathering grows more efficient, more automated, and more intrusive, and the lingering specter of 9/11 reminds us all too acutely of the cost of failures regarding national security, the question of what balance is the right balance seems more immediate than ever before.

You can find more information about the author on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @johnaltman1969.  You can also find him on Facebook

Disposable Asset
A nineteen-year-old runaway goes head-to-head with the Kremlin and a seasoned CIA operative in a thrilling tale of international intrigue and revenge.  Having completed her mission to silence an agency defector, CIA operative Cassie Bradbury finds herself cut adrift in Moscow with no documents, no tickets and no identification. Hot on her trail are the Kremlin, the Russian Mafia – and Sean Ravensdale, the disgraced ex-CIA agent who has been sent to track her down.  Realizing that she has been set up and is now expendable, Cassie will need all her courage and resourcefulness to outwit her pursuers – and stay alive long enough to exact revenge on the man who recruited her, who trained her – who betrayed her.

Disposable Asset is by John Altman and is published on 29 May 2015, (Severn House, £19.99)

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Breaking News!!! Title of new James Bond book revealed!


Anthony Horowitz lifts lid on title of new 007 novel and
announces “Pussy Galore is back!”

Anthony Horowitz reveals today (28th May), on what would have been James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s 107th birthday, that his forthcoming official 007 adventure is to be titled Trigger Mortis. In a move that will whet the appetite of fans worldwide and is unprecedented among recent Bond novels – the contents have always been shrouded in mystery until publication – Horowitz divulges that the secret agent’s new adventure begins in 1957, two weeks after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger. Horowitz places Bond in the middle of the Soviet-American Space Race as the United States prepares for a critical rocket launch, and brings back the most famous Bond Girl of all: Pussy Galore! 

Horowitz is the latest contemporary novelist to tackle literature’s greatest action hero, and the first toplace his work directly within Fleming’s original canon. As well as Pussy Galore, the book features: brand new Bond Girl Jeopardy Lane; Jai Seung Sin, a sadistic, scheming Korean adversary hell-bent on vengeance; and breathless, globe-trotting adventure. Uniquely among latter-day Bond authors, Horowitz has included original Ian Fleming material: a treatment for Murder on Wheels, an episode of a television series that was never made. Fleming’s text sees Bond in the high-octane world of motor racing and it is his never-used plot that kicks off the action of Trigger Mortis.  

Anthony Horowitz said: “It was always my intention to go back to the true Bond, which is to say, the Bond that Fleming created and it was a fantastic bonus having some original, unseen material from the master to launch my story. I was so glad that I was allowed to set the book two weeks after my favourite Bond novel, Goldfinger, and I’m delighted that Pussy Galore is back! It was great fun revisiting the most famous Bond Girl of all - although she is by no means the only dangerous lady in Trigger Mortis. I hope fans enjoy it. My aim was to make this the most authentic James Bond novel anyone could have written.”

Like previous new James Bond adventures, Trigger Mortis was commissioned and
authorised by Ian Fleming Publications and the Ian Fleming Estate. Lucy Fleming, the niece of Ian Fleming, said: “What a brilliant birthday present for Ian - Anthony has written a James Bond book with a nail-biting adventure that could have come from Ian’s own typewriter. Anthony has cleverly incorporated Ian’s original ideas in to his own plot to produce a Bond book to remember.”
Jon Wood, Orion Publisher, said: “Anthony has delivered a stunning novel: non-stop action, a deadly, deranged opponent, and not one but two fantastic Bond women. His genius is to brilliantly capture the essence of a Fleming original and give it a 21st century edge. James Bond fans, and Anthony Horowitz fans, will absolutely love Trigger Mortis.” 

One of the country’s most successful writers, the prolific Anthony Horowitz has over 40 books to his name. He has written two official Sherlock Holmes novels, The House of Silk and Moriarty, to both critical acclaim and commercial success, and his bestselling teen spy series, Alex Rider, has sold over 19 million copies. As a TV screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyles War. His play, Dinner with Saddam, opens at the Menier Chocolate Factory in September.  

Trigger Mortis will be published on 8th September by Orion Publishing.

For media enquiries please contact Jon Howells, Katie Brown or Lija Kresowaty at Riot Communications on 020 3174 0118; / 07766 396 844; / 07748 592 813; and / 07557 373 026

Official hashtag: #triggermortis


Anthony Horowitz
Horowitz is one of the country’s most successful writers, working across many media forms, including books, TV series, films, plays and journalism. His most recent book, Moriarty, was the follow-up to his first official Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk: both were Sunday Times Top 10 bestsellers. As well as his bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, the first of which was adapted into the 2006 feature film Stormbreaker, his other work for children includes the series The Power of Five and The Diamond Brothers. Further screenwriting credits include Poirot and the widely acclaimed mini-series Collision and Injustice. Horowitz is on the board of the Old Vic and regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines. In 2014 he was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. He lives in London.

James Bond Books
· Over 100 million James Bond books have been sold worldwide.
· Ian Fleming wrote 14 James Bond books: Casino Royale (1953); Live and Let Die (1954); Moonraker (1955); Diamonds Are Forever (1956); From Russia with Love (1957); Dr. No (1958); Goldfinger (1959); For Your Eyes Only (1960); Thunderball (1961); The Spy Who Loved Me (1962); On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963); You Only Live Twice (1964); The Man With The Golden Gun (1965); and Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966).
· Fleming’s other works include the children’s favourite Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964), which was made into a film and stage musical; The Diamond Smugglers (1957); and a collection of travel writings called Thrilling Cities (1963).
· Vintage Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House, currently holds the license to publish Ian Fleming’s entire James Bond backlist in print and ebook format, along with Fleming’s two non-fiction titles in the English language worldwide excluding USA/Canada.
· Other previous authors of official James Bond novels include: Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.
· Steve Cole is the author of the new series of ‘Young Bond’ books, the first of which, Shoot to Kill, was published by Doubleday in 2014.

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd and The Ian Fleming Estate
· Ian Fleming Publications Ltd. is run by the Fleming family and owns the copyright in Ian Fleming’s fiction and non-fiction books. The Ian Fleming Estate is also run by the Fleming family and owns the copyright in Ian Fleming’s personal letters, some journalism and other non-Bond writing.

Orion Publishing Group:
· The Orion Publishing Group is one of the UK’s leading publishers with a list of award-winning fiction and nonfiction under three main imprints: Orion Books, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Gollancz.

· Orion Books has an excellent record of Sunday Times Top Ten Bestsellers. The Orion fiction list encompasses crime and thrillers, contemporary women’s fiction and historical novels. Major authors include: Linwood Barclay, Maeve Binchy, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Anthony Horowitz, Erica James, Cathy Kelly, Kate Mosse and Ian Rankin. The Orion Publishing Group is part of Hachette UK, which is a leading UK trade publishing group. Hachette UK is owned by Hachette Livre, the world’s second largest trade and educational publisher