Shadow State        
On November 13th, 2015, SHADOW STATE went on sale in Britain and the USA through and Priced at £8.17 ($9.82) paperback and £1.99 ($2.99) Kindle, this represents extraordinary value for a 420 page quality production. While the book follows on from SMOKY BACON CRISPS: Finding the Edge of Life, it is quite different in its drawing together of many of the current strands in present day politics. I got into the habit of referring to it as 'political fiction', but as present-day politics became more and more tabloid driven, obsessed with increasing mass surveillance, and racking up controlling laws on the back of an enhanced terrorism threat, the word 'fiction' has become more and more questionable. Below is the blurb on Amazon seeking to give the flavour of the book without giving away the plot.
Introduction to Shadow State

Two years previously, in a book titled Smoky Bacon Crisps: Finding the Edge of Life, three men in their sixties, Roy Fox, Donnie Anderson and Henry Doncaster, challenged the social order of the nation by taking a stand against an errant authority. They fight pervasive terrorism legislation and the illicit force of law to take their case to the people, resulting in The Pensioners’ March on Glasgow.

In the present book the three men are drawn into something much darker. Their elderly friend, Sidney Plunkett, had been CEO of three multinationals and in the early nineties he was one of the first to see the potential that was to become the World Wide Web. Now, at eighty-six years of age, he lives in a home for the elderly. His hobby is hacking and he delights in directing networks that breech the security of the MI5, SIS, CIA and NSA websites. But surely what he is uncovering cannot be true? Surely the recent terrorist incidents: the bombs in a hospital and the destructive sabotage of a nuclear reactor, were not orchestrated from within the British Establishment? He detects a secret organisation,Erebus, which gets its funding from various government departments. Erebus appears to be connected to an infamous university club whose members include the Prime Minister.

Sidney’s friends Henry, Roy and Donnie try to help, but who will believe them in the face of a government that is intent on racking up the terror agenda. Almost daily television pronouncements by the Prime Minister stoke up a terrorist fearing reality for the British public, even labelling Roy, Donnie and Henry as possible terrorists and putting a price on their heads. As the three go on the run in beautiful parts of the northwest coast of Scotland they are chased by special forces agents in scenes reminiscent of Buchan’s Thirty Nine Steps. Yet the fugitives also have help from a disparate collection of ‘dissidents’, including bar manager friends, Maureen and Rosie; Nadira Khan, Oxford Don and Master of the Bench of Middle Temple; Glasgow gangster ‘Finn’ and his bodyguard, Adonis; and London gang leader Calvin Campbell who runs Newham. Other ‘insurgents’ include computer experts Mohsin and Amjad, as well as the kilt-wearing Moroccan chef Hamza Hassan, not to mention the Russian dive boat skipper, Dmitry Kovalev who falls foul of the sadistic torturer, Major Roger Winchester. Flora Campbell from Gairloch, not unlike her namesake Flora MacDonald, also plays her part, as does the community of Knoydart, north of Mallaig. Throughout Britain many others try to help, only to be thwarted by little known legislation such as the Civil Contingencies Act, akin to the USA’s ‘Patriot Act’, and equally adept at closing down ‘terrorist supporting’ newspapers as well as silencing traitorous policemen, including the enigmatic Chief Inspector Aldo Perretti. We will not disclose the plot, but mention must be given to some of the superheroes of the unfolding story, such as Lord Glendinning of Dougalston, Astraea the mysterious Goddess of Purity, and…a cuckoo.



The first review of Shadow State comes from the author Andrew Greig ( I read SS with pleasure last week. I enjoyed being back with those characters, enjoyed the set pieces and nipping around to interesting parts of the country. A romp against a serious background. At times I thought, like Alastair in RJM, 'If only life was like this.' And for the duration of the book, it is."

And the second is from SG: "What a page turner! I really enjoyed it, and have just this minute finished it. Another film in the making I think. Fabulous! I enjoyed being reunited with the characters, although it could be read without having read Smoky Bacon Crisps. I loved the detail – boats, fishing, gardening, walking, and the technology – it felt so alive, so vital, and so warm. And of course the politics touched what so many of us feel, especially in England – there’s no one left to vote for. Everything was so plausible – there was nothing that jarred. Yes, I’m sure GCHQ has a file on you!" 

The next three reviews are listed in All give the book a five star rating.

The most recent is from GMAC (probably not the golfer!) who points to the parallels between the Government in SHADOW STATE and the current handling of the BREXIT crisis: "Based on the relationships between three older men - unlikely friends with quite different backgrounds. They find themselves hunted by the 'shadow state' that runs Britain from behind the scenes. Across the twists and turns of the unfolding plot, we learn more about the main characters, as they face up to danger and challenges and rediscover long-lost strengths and capabilities. There are some wonderful descriptions of what it is like to be in the Scottish hills and on the water around the west Highland coast. Also much dry humour and believable dialogue. This is a novel that grabbed my attention from the start, and took over my life for a couple of days. Many of the scenes and events remain memorable and thought-provoking, even weeks after reading the book. Written before the Brexit crisis of June 2016, it sheds valuable light on what has happened in recent weeks, in terms of who is actually in control, and what they are trying to achieve. Excellent value. Highly recommended. Can't wait to read the next one in the series."

A second is from p yorath, titled, SET SOME TIME ASIDE"Took the story of Smoky Bacon onto the next step, but where to now?
Really creative writing, the twists and turns come together when and as they should, but you only see it when it happens.
The mixture of emotion, romance, political intrigue and three old men's lives come together in a way you could not predict.Please read this book and convince yourself that it could not possibly happen here, could it??"

And, the third is from C. BAKER, titled, A REAL POLITICAL THRILLER:: "A real page turner. Don't read with the lights off. It rivals the 39 STEPS as a Scottish adventure, but it is thoroughly up to date, with the bad guys running the country. Would make a great movie."

The USA distributor,, also carries two five star reviews:

"This exciting suspense novel shows three friends discovering a massive plot by a shadow government to create terrorist events in order to increase government control. After hospital and nuclear facilities are bombed, three elderly men, falsely accused, go on the run throughout Great Britain. Each has particular talents, as well as weaknesses, but all possess the kind of decency that attracts friendship and aid from ordinary and highly placed folks as well as very likeable criminals. Written with humor and rich description of adventures on sea, on trains, on mountains, prisons, pubs and city streets an ingenious plot unfolds that keeps the reader worried and engaged. I liked the impossible odds the heroes faced, the surprising ways they managed to keep going and, most of all, the many odd human meetings that outsmarted the very clever and very respectable villains."

"I was delighted to read Shadow State. After reading Smoky Bacon Crisps by the same author, I was happy to reconnect with its main characters: Roy, Henry and Donnie. In this story, these elderly men get involved in an exciting thriller escaping from British secret service throughout the most varied Scottish landscapes. The plot is captivating. And it beautifully describes the friendship between courageous, open-minded, and sensitive folks. What I liked best though are its dialogues, which I think express Scottish wit at its best. I strongly recommend this novel."



In the months following the publication of SHADOW STATE the factual political reality within Britain has moved closer to the fictional reality depicted in the book. As I write now, on Saturday July 2nd 2016, there is a huge gathering of mainly young people in London demanding that the Government exerts the legitimate authority of a Parliamentary Democracy to review all aspects of the decision to leave the EU rather than abrogate responsibility to avoid splits within the Conservative Party. The young people are exerting their personal authority in the same fashion as in the climax to SHADOW STATE, hopefully with less deadly results. The parallels of the current political reality with the plot of SHADOW STATE, including the resignation of the Prime Minister, led me to put the following posting on Facebook on July 1st, 2016.

  When I wrote 'SHADOW STATE' I was clear that it was a work of fiction. My view is that fiction works best if it is just beyond the edge of truth. We want the reader to understand that it is fiction but every now and again to pause and to wonder...In that pause they might ask themselves questions like: "What might government agencies do to deflect blame and project it on others? How might they take the people's fear and give them reasons for it? Might they then even tell the people that they, the government, are fighting on behalf of the people against the foe? How far might they go in this fuelling of fantasy? What things might go wrong if their manipulations of the people became unhinged?

The 1997 Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro movie, 'Wag the Dog', portrayed the invention of a far away war against an inaccessible enemy in order to draw attention away from a President in trouble and raise his poll ratings. It is of course pure fiction but it causes pause when we consider Thatcher's rise up the ratings from 25% to a 1983 election victory bigger than any since 1945. The far away war in the inaccessible Falklands was a fortunate accident for her government.

So, we have the plot of 'SHADOW STATE', where government responds to 'terrorist' incidents on British soil by labeling the offenders, stirring up hate such that vigilantes feel they have a moral right to commit murder, closing down unfriendly newspapers and bringing in ever more restrictive powers (has the reader heard of the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004 by the way?).

With the present events concerning the Conservatives Vs Conservatives drama I have wondered if government is trying to move Shadow State from the Fiction to the Non-Fiction shelves. They have certainly drawn attention away from the recent economic indicators. which show that their management of the economy has been going down the tubes in the period before the present fiasco. They have shown us that the enemy is foreign and about to invade us in much greater numbers. They have used the best of social psychological research even to get us INVOLVED by giving us a vote through which our own agency may destroy the enemy and save our wonderful country.

My comparison between the work of fiction, 'SHADOW STATE', and the Government's present work of non-fiction caused my spine to tingle when I looked at the climax to the book with the people taking back their power in a massive event in Hyde Park, and the gathering of protesters outside the House of Commons after the Referendum result.

Like the book, it looks as though the Government's work of non-fiction has also gone wrong. One remembers Michael Caine's famous quip: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" Boris et al, you were not supposed to win the bloody thing!

Finally, there is Boris's leaving. How are we to view that twist to the plot? If the Government's drama was a work of fiction we would have some difficulty in believing that he would have been persuaded to withdraw after finding that Gove was also going to stand. A good fiction writer would not allow such a strain on the reader's credibility. Someone like a Boris would never allow himself to be swayed by a Gove. No, a good fiction writer would give the reader a plausible reason. If i were writing the plot i might leave threads dangling for the perhaps Gove had something on poor Boris...perhaps something going back to the shared University affiliations of Cameron, Osborne and Johnson... Now must stop because I am thoroughly confusing fact with fiction.The university connection among the politicians was from the fictional book, SHADOW STATE... not the Government work of non-fiction. Oh dear, my old brain is in such a fuddle...


In the coming months I will be interested in discussion with readers of SHADOW STATE through this website ( or Facebook

If anyone would like an autographed copy of the book, simply email me at: to make arrangements.