Written by David Beckler

When I started writing, I stuck to the ‘write what you know’ mantra and wrote action thrillers in the Sterling & Mason series, featuring Adam, a firefighter—something I knew lots about—and Byron, his best mate from the Royal Marines.

But there was a subject I wanted to cover, which nobody was writing much about in 2013. High-level corruption in the UK. Not a few bent coppers or a dodgy deal, but the stuff we’ve been reading about in the press since 2020. I needed someone different to delve into these stories, and so investigative reporter Antonia Conti was born.

She follows in the traditions of courageous women like Marie Colvin and Shireen Abu Akleh. The sort of people we need now. I wanted her to be a woman who didn’t need a man to rescue her—in fact, she’s often the rescuer. 

I gave her a troubled background, giving her more challenges to overcome. We writers can be a cruel lot. She’d been a child refugee in the care system, but she’s grown into someone you’d want on your side, brave, determined, and unrelenting in her pursuit of justice. 

Because she’s young, I could give her a steep character arc. Part of the fun of writing about her is to see where she’s going to go next. I also gave her a strong supporting cast who each had a voice and their own character arc. The books aren’t just action-packed political thrillers, but home to a complex group of characters you want to spend time with. 

Detective Chapman, initially antagonistic towards Antonia, changes his views as he gets to know her and understand the world from her perspective. Sanchez, his very able deputy, plays an important part in his education and evolution.

Eleanor, who doesn’t let being in a wheelchair restrict her, is Antonia’s adoptive mother and mentor, but their relationship changes as Antonia matures. Sabirah, a woman who has suffered her own ordeals, is a loyal and courageous friend. Beaten down by her experiences, but working to give her children a future, she grows in confidence. Their stories and the interactions between them give the series its ‘heart’. The dynamics of the relationships between the characters change as they do. 

Obviously, in a thriller series, we need action and jeopardy. The books have plenty of both and I’ve used my firefighting experiences to write some realistic and ‘genuinely frightening’* scenes. 

*Quote from an editor.

I made every novel a complete story and Antonia faces different, highly dangerous foes. Each volume has a complete story arc and a satisfying ending. A thread runs through the series and centres on Antonia’s conflict with Reed-Mayhew, a powerful businessman whose influence and threat grow across the books. The conflict ends in a final reckoning between them. The themes explored in the novels are corruption, justice, friendship, belonging and retribution. I wrote the first draft of A Long Shadow in 2013, and most people didn’t consider corruption to be a big problem in the UK. I’d seen enough to realise that it was and would become bigger if left unchecked. 

In A Long Shadow, Antonia is working to uncover corruption at the highest level and unofficially investigating the murders of several young women, including a friend who disappeared. The threats come from a variety of sources, including Reed-Mayhew and a terrifying figure from Antonia’s past. As Antonia closes in on the criminals, they take ever more desperate measures against her and her friends. In an action-packed tale, she ends up risking everything to get to the truth.

In A Stolen Memory, besides physical dangers, she faces a threat to her mind. Although she’d proved herself able to survive extreme physical challenges in A Long Shadow, the ordeals she’d endured as a child made her mentally vulnerable. She investigates a team of unscrupulous scientists who manipulate people’s memories. The investigation leads her into increasingly dangerous situations until she faces the horrifying possibility of having her memory and personality erased. 

In A Nuclear Reaction, Mike Grainger, an award-winning reporter working for a rival paper, approaches Antonia. He’s uncovered a web of corruption behind a huge government contract, but nobody else will touch the story. And with good reason, those involved will do anything to hide their involvement. Grainger disappears, and Antonia discovers exactly how far her enemies will go. She faces a variety of foes, including corrupt police and security service officers, terrorists, and a gang of hired killers who murdered one of her closest friends. Antonia faces her greatest challenge. She must land the story and track down her friend’s killer whilst in a race to find Grainger before it’s too late. 


Published by Thomas & Mercer pbk £8.99 — Kindle & audiobooks



David Beckler

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