Examiner columnist Denis Kilcommons will be signing copies of his new book with a split personality tomorrow.
The book is Angel, the second part of a post-apocalyptic trilogy published by Myrmidon Books and written under the pseudonym Jon Grahame. The book signing is at the New Street branch of Waterstones between 12 noon and 2pm.
“I’ll probably sign the books with both names,” said Denis. “That is, if anybody turns up to buy a copy.”
The trilogy is set in the near future after a SARS virus pandemic kills most of the world’s population. It follows a group of survivors who form a rural community near York.
“The first book, Reaper, was published three years ago and is re-launched with a new cover, along with Angel,” Kilcommons said. “The third part, Redemption, will be published later this year.”
Former policeman Jim Reaper becomes judge, jury and executioner when society shreds. Those who are left are prey to roving gangs who rape, kill and take what they want. Reaper, a man who has lost everything, saves 18-year old Sandra from gang abuse and trains her in the killing arts of survival. Together, they lead a group to a country estate near York to make a new start and soon it expands with refugees from violent cities and towns.
But rogue bands roam the countryside and Reaper and Sandra face the challenge with such ruthless and deadly efficiency that they acquire new names: The Grim Reaper and the Angel of Death.
Denis said: “The books were partly inspired by the era of the Asbo youth and rampant hooliganism on the streets of Britain. I read so many stories about the way feral gangs of youths had taken over some inner urban areas. When people tried to stand up to them, they were abused, beaten and sometimes killed.
“It annoyed me that quite often, these hooligans and criminals, got away with it. On the occasions they were taken to court, the punishment rarely fit the crime.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a hero who could walk the mean streets and bring about order? We can’t, of course, because we have to live by the rule of law, even though it may not be perfect.
“Then I thought that if there was ever a natural disaster where the rule of law broke down, this hooligan minority would rule unopposed. In those circumstances, survivors would need the protection of a man like Reaper – armed and extremely dangerous – who would impose his own instant justice.”
The natural disaster envisaged by Kilcommons is a SARS pandemic.
“Plague devastated the world in the 14th century and killed between 30% and 60% of the population of Europe. The flu epidemic of 1918 killed 50 to 100 million worldwide. Last century, we also had Asian flu, Hong Kong, flu, Mexican flu. There was an outbreak of SARs in 2003 and there have been scares about avian flu.
“Scientists have warned that a virus is far more threatening to world order than terrorism – and the major danger is in China where doctors hand out antibiotics to farmers for simple illnesses. This has tainted the food chain and led to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
“If a virus, that is resistant to known antibiotics, was to get loose, it could swiftly spread because of air travel and the international food chain. Fortunately, it hasn’t yet and hopefully it never will. But, if it did, we might all like to have a Jim Reaper living down our street.”
Denis won the John Creasey Award from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain for his first thriller, The Dark Apostle, in 1987.
Angel and Reaper by Jon Grahame, published by Myrmidon Books, £7 95, are also available as e-books.
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