Following on from The Laughing Gnome: Fear of the Web, book three sees the focus shift to Brigadier William Bishop, who, after several astral jumps through time, is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever return to his life in 2011!
The Danger Men sees the return of popular novelist Nick Walters for his third Lethbridge-Stewart novel. Nick previously wrote Mutually Assured Domination in 2015 and The Man from Yesterday earlier in 2018.
Nick says: “When I was told of the story arc for this anniversary series, I immediately knew what I wanted to do: a straight spy thriller, with no sci-fi or fantasy elements other than the framing story and elements of the wider Whoniverse. At the same time, I had the idea for the opening scene, and it’s more or less exactly as you read it in the finished book! It’s rare that ideas come so fully-formed so quickly, but it’s wonderful when they do. I intended The Danger Men to be a homage to James Bond, Jason Bourne, Mission: Impossible and the works of John Le Carre, spoofing some elements yet taking the story deadly seriously. For example, women are always throwing themselves at James Bond, and the same happens to Bill in this book, but, of course, because he’s a gent and loyal to Anne he cannot reciprocate, leading to complications and comedy.”
This is the first book in the range to focus primarily on Bill Bishop. Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen explains that decision: “Ever since his first appearance in the first Lethbridge-Stewart novel, Bill has proven very popular with our readers. Up to now the books have been led by either the Brigadier or Anne, so the decision was made that, during this contained series of novels and under the steady hand of Nick Walters, we could take the risk of allowing one of our series-originated characters to take the lead. Bill was the only choice for that, really, easily being the most popular and the most connected to both the Brigadier and Anne – especially Anne, seeing as they got engaged during the course or the series and have been shown to be married by the 1990s. Of course, both the Brigadier and Anne make cameo appearances, and their presence is felt throughout. It is still every bit a Lethbridge-Stewart novel!”
Music has a large influence on The Danger Men, and Nick explains more: “The story arc title, The Laughing Gnome, was inspired by David Bowie, of course. It’s set in 1999 so there are a lot of references to contemporary pop, rock and indie, in chapter titles for example, and the naming of operations by Department M, which subverts the conventions of naming such things after works of high culture in Le Carre and Deighton novels. There is, however, one group, one very famous group spanning the ’80s and ’90s, who are still going now, who inspired the majority of the character names and references. Stella Van Steiner, Dieter Allegro, Otto Di Catania – I’ll let you guess who! We plan to do a soundtrack for the book, containing all the songs referenced therein, which should be available on Spotify soon. Such things as pop music references are great fun, of course, but only the icing on the cake. The Danger Men is, I hope, a fast-moving, thrilling, funny and sometimes alarming spy caper with loads of twists and turns. It’s also a study of identity – Bill has to take on various aliases in his mission, and the more he takes on the further he feels isolated from his true self. So, underneath all the fun is all this existential musing on the nature of existence.”
The cover is by Paul Cooke, returning for his second novel after providing the artwork for Nick Walters’ previous book, The Man from Yesterday. Paul says: “It was a very pleasant surprise to be asked back to do another cover for the series. When I read what the story was about, I was thrilled – it was a perfect opportunity do a cover influenced by some of the period film posters I enjoy. I was thinking I would approach this in a slightly different style to my last one, a bit more painterly. The only problem was not to make it too pulpy in look, which is when I hit upon the idea of the computer screen type, which immediately gave the piece a sense of time.”
2011 and Brigadier William Bishop visits his old commanding officer, Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, who is a little concerned about a garden gnome he recently found. Soon both Bishop and his wife, Anne Travers, find themselves dragged through time after the Brigadier…
He’s a man on a mission. But he has no idea what the mission is. It’s 1999. Bill Bishop is plunged into a world of intrigue as he inhabits the body of Calum Bence of Department M – aka the Danger Men – on the trail of millionaire entrepreneur and suspected super-spy Dieter Allegro.
But is Allegro really the bad guy he’s made out to be? And who is the mysterious Otto Di Catania, and why is he so interested in the contents of a certain CD-ROM?
As he seeks these answers, Bill can’t help but wonder: will he ever find Anne and the Brigadier, will he even return to 2011, or is he destined to be lost in time forever?
Join Bill in his borrowed body as he travels from Johannesburg to London to Torquay and Austria on his mission impenetrable…
The Laughing Gnome will continue in early 2019 with book four. The Day of the Matador, by Robert Mammone, sees our heroes reuniting in 1970s England dealing with gangsters and Dominators! This is followed by book five, Lucy Wilson and the Bledoe Cadets by Tim Gambrell, with On His Majesty’s National Service by David A McIntee following a month later.
NB: IF YOU HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION THE LAUGHING GNOME SERIES IS COVERED BY THIS.
The Laughing Gnome: The Danger Men is available for pre-order now for £8.99 (+ p&p). The book is due for release at the end of November.