Monday 22 May 2017

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey #BlogTour @HowardLinskey @noexitpress #MyLifeInBooks

Bestselling author Howard Linskey's fifteen year fascination with the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the holocaust, has produced a meticulously researched, historically accurate thriller with a plot that echoes The Day of the Jackal and The Eagle has Landed.

2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on a man so evil even fellow SS officers referred to him as the "Blond Beast". In Prague he was known as the "Hangman". Hitler, who called him "The Man with the Iron Heart", considered Heydrich to be his heir, and entrusted him with the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish question: the systematic murder of eleven million people.

In 1942 two men were trained by the British SOE to parachute back into their native Czech territory to kill the man ruling their homeland. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik risked everything for their country. Their attempt on Reinhard Heydrich's life was one of the single most dramatic events of the Second World War, with horrific consequences for thousands of innocent people.

Hunting the Hangman is a tale of courage, resilience and betrayal with a devastating finale. Based on true events, the story reads like a classic World War Two thriller and is the subject of two big-budget Hollywood films that coincide with the anniversary of Operation Anthropoid.

Hunting The Hangman by Howard Linskey is published in paperback on 25 May 2017 by No Exit Press.

I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour. He's talking about the books that have inspired him and are special to him, in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books ~ Howard Linskey

My dad read this to me during a week-long, rain-filled caravan holiday when I was nine years old and I loved it. You’ve got to go a long way to find a scarier character than Blind Pew and Long John Silver was probably the first ‘baddie’ I found myself rooting for while hoping he would escape. The chapter where young Jim Hawkins and his group defend a stockade from pirate attack was the most exciting thing I’d encountered in a book at my young age.

Lesser known than Wyndham’s ‘The Day of The Triffids’ or ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’, ‘The Chrysalids’ had me hooked when I was about twelve. A post-apocalyptic story about a religious community that expels or kills anyone with a physical abnormality, not realising that some of their number, including young David Strorm and his sister, possess the power of telepathy. Keeping their secret from superstitious fellow villagers becomes harder as the children grow up and things begin to seriously unravel. This one had me turning the pages in double quick time so I could find out what happened to the special children.

I was a bit older for this one; fourteen or so and ‘A Kind of Loving’ was the first book I’d encountered about normal life in a northern town. It made me realise you could write about anywhere, as long as you do it well. Vic gets his girlfriend Ingrid pregnant and is forced to marry her, even though they are far from well-suited then they move in with his appalling mother in law. Vic feels trapped in his town, his job and his marriage and dreams of a way out. He’s not the nicest or most sympathetic of characters but Barstow makes him seem very real in his rebellion against provincial small-mindedness and longing for a more meaningful life.

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” We know from the opening sentence that something is very wrong in Winston Smith’s world. Always relevant, it was originally written as a reaction to Stalin’s evil dictatorship but can serve equally well nowadays as a parable for Donald Trump’s post-truth, alternative-fact, lying-through-his teeth era.

I wanted my novel ‘Hunting the Hangman’ to appeal to readers of ‘The Day of the Jackal’ or ‘The Eagle Has Landed’.  In those stories it doesn’t matter that you already know the ending (spoiler alert - they didn’t kill Winston Churchill in this one!). It’s the characters we care about. Their involvement in a seemingly impossible mission and a desire to know their fates will keep you reading to the end.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” From that wonderful opening line we are transported into Leo’s world. An old man looks back on his childhood and the catastrophic effect on his entire life of a tragedy he was embroiled in. The writing is so good I still love this novel despite being forced to write essays about it for A level; surely the sign of a great book. 

There were always books in our house and my dad had shelves full of Le Carre and Len Deighton novels that I picked up and got into during my late teens and early twenties. This would still be my desert Island book if I could take only one. It has everything. Le Carre writes beautifully and this is a complex, page turning story that deftly illustrates the devastating power of betrayal. I love the book and I probably know most of the lines. It’s worth a read for the character of George Smiley alone.

I was in the world of work by the time I read this one. A man spends the best part of his life in service to another, under the assumption that his employer means well and knows best, only to slowly realise he has been working for a Nazi appeaser. Stevens is a butler for Lord Darlington and his entire life is devoted to service. In later life he begins to question the wisdom of this. It’s a book about regret and missed opportunities, particularly where the former housekeeper is concerned. Stevens drives to meet Miss Kenton to persuade her to return to Darlington Hall after twenty years. As he travels, we jump back and forth from his present to a time when he was a younger man. What mattered most to Stevens then was his dignity, even at the cost of living a real life.

Howard Linskey ~ May 2017

Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

His David Blake books have been optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron. They are published in the UK by No Exit Press, in Germany by Droemer Knaur and in the US by Harper Collins. The Times newspaper voted 'The Drop' one of its Top Five Thrillers of the Year and 'The Damage' one of its Top Summer Reads. Both books broke into the top five Amazon Kindle chart. 

‘The Search' is the third book in a crime fiction series written by Howard Linskey for Penguin Random House, featuring journalists Tom Carney & Helen Norton with police detective Ian Bradshaw. The other titles in this series are 'No Name Lane' and ‘Behind Dead Eyes’. He is also the author of ‘Hunting the Hangman’ a historical thriller about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague during WW2.

Howard's web site is
Follow him on Twitter at @HowardLinskey

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