An African elephant gestates its calf for twenty-two months. This first week of May, my personal elephant officially drops into the world after a similarly-long period in the womb. Mixing metaphors, Sea of Lies is the mother of all Asia-based espionage conspiracy thrillers. Sri Lanka and Burma feature prominently, as do Singapore and the Australian Outback. Along the way, MH370’s disappearance, Edward Snowden’s body double, CIA rogue agents, a sultry China counter intelligence chieftain, a Vietnam-era composite Spec Ops caricature bad guy, Stuxnet, retired SEAL and personal buddy Jim Hawes’ wholly fictitious evil twin, and the US and China Navies end up embroiled in a labyrinthine tale anchored by CIA pariah and soon-to-retire cryptanalyst Bob Nolan. Bob has problems at home, only recently having emerged from a thirty-month wife-imposed solitary confinement after an affair with a younger CIA colleague blew up. And now he’s strayed again, the Ministry of State Security has jailed his wife Joanie and daughter Mei-Ling, and son Bert is on the run in the Pacific Northwest with the FBI in pursuit.

Readers of the True Lies blog you already know what the book’s about: just scroll through the past entries for a glimpse at the real-life inspirations for Sea of Lies.

SOL COVER 5x8 Final 2016 Apr 19

 

Cover design by Aneirin Flynn.

 

The cover art and flap blurbs serve as a good visual and written executive summary. May 7 is the target date for Sea of Lies to go on sale for US$2.99 in e-book format on Amazon (US) with other Amazon and e-retailer sites to follow shortly. The paperback version will be out in late June in the US, UK and Asia at a US$10+ price point to help recover printing, shipping, warehousing and fulfillment costs.

 

For the next month or so, I’ll be reaching out to authors, fans and groupies in the mystery, suspense & thriller genres to discover prospective readers of a long (one and a half times the ‘normal’ suspense title format), complicated (this is not a formula thriller: you need to pay attention) and exciting (I promise!) novel with lots of action happening in parallel in several geographies. In keeping with the title, truth is in scarce supply.

 

People ask me what the book’s like that they may have seen or read. I suspect that if you are a TV person and watch HomelandThe Americans, Luther, True Detective or 24 then you’re going to like the book. Movie fans who enjoyed Syriana, the Matt Damon Bourne movies, or (showing my age) The Conversation should be able to have some fun as well.

 

Neal Stephenson’s opus Cryptonomicon was an inspiration, though that book is even more ambitious than mine as it takes place over fifty years as opposed to the eight days comprising Sea of Lies. Stig Larsson’s The Girl with trilogy and Terry Hayes I am Pilgrim proved that first-time authors could find audiences for intricate plots, violence, sex and atypically long treatments. If you like the classic spy novels of le Carré, Charles McCarry (he was a new discovery for me: check out his Paul Christopher thrillers), and Deighton’s Bernard Samson (Berlin Game for starters) books then you may like Sea of Lies. I can’t in good faith claim to write close to the standard of those three giants.

 

I did, however, take care to make the events depicted in Sea of Lies realistic. And no actions described in the book required any physical prowess beyond that of a normal (non-superhuman) anti-hero in his early fifties. Basically, I wrote a book I would enjoy reading, with more to it than the normal airport page-turner. My goal in future is to write books that other people enjoy reading as well. (My wife pointed out that this might help reverse the negative cash flow associated with the Lies project to date.)

 

In any event, if you can hang on another few days we’ll have the “Click here to go to Amazon and buy the book” button on the www.bradleywest.net website. (The book is still not up on Amazon as my designer Mr. Flynnie Flynn Flynn is on vacation.) If you can afford the $3 outlay, buy a copy (you can download a free Kindle reader for your phone, tablet or PC) and give it a go. Then leave a review if you feel inclined. Honest reviews confer credibility, and legitimacy (plus word of mouth recommendations, as always) drives online book sales these days. There are a lot of bad books out there, so buyers are getting choosier and large numbers of impartial reviews are a major filtering device.

 

There are already two dozen advance reader copies in the wild, and if any of the blog followers already in possession of one would like to leave review under the “Comments” section, please do so. I may copy these to the “Lies” section of the website, depending on what they say!

 

In sum, Sea of Lies is a fictitious take on what happened to MH370, with a lot of other mysteries and conspiracy theories thrown into the mix. The topics are still in the news today despite  the book’s almost two-year incubation period.

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I thought that writing a complete draft of Sea of Lies was the hardest thing I’d ever done (possibly with the exception of the 7th grade the first time). That concluded at end July, 2015 with a 233,000 word effort . . . well, I thought I was done then because I approached publishers. Then I went away for two months and ended up editing the book again ostensibly while on a vacation, and then I came back to Singapore in November and got a contract offer from a Singapore publisher . . . which I walked away from in January over commercial differences . . . until last week when the 16th (that’s not a typo!) read-through by me (excluding my two editors, wife, two sons . . .) came to a close and the book finally put to bed having lost some weight and ending up at 192,000 words. Along the way, I researched, outlined and started the sequel Pack of Lies and wrote a quarter of it (and re-wrote it two times for good measure), attended the London Book Fair and farted around not a whole lot.

OH, I also read a lot more than I ever have in the past, too. I learned a lot from reading, but very little of that knowledge found its way into Sea of Lies. That sounds like the subject of another blog, however.

 

“What a long, strange trip it’s been”

Robert Hunter (Truckin’), The Grateful Dead (1970)