As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Silvertail
Books, 30 January 2020. ISBN: 978-1-909269-34-7 (PB)
‘Useful idiot’ is a political term applied to describe
a person who naively believes what he or she is told and may even be prepared
to act on it. In particular the term was attributed by Lenin and Stalin to scornfully
describe such people; whether or not either leader actually used the term they
certainly used the concept.
This novel is based
on the life of a young Welsh journalist Gareth Jones. As a youth he had been
radicalised by witnessing savage beatings administered by the police to
striking miners in the South Wales valleys and this had led him to sympathy for
communism. He had degrees in French, German and Russian and, having worked as a
private secretary for Lloyd George, became a reporter for the Western Mail in
Like many people in
Europe and the USA, Jones is initially sympathetic to the Soviet ambitions to
rebuild the Soviet Union into a truly socialist state under the leadership of,
first, Lenin and then Stalin. Public figures such as George Bernard Shaw had
praised the enterprise and discounted reports of famine resulting from the
enforced collectivisation of agriculture in the Ukraine and elsewhere. He
travels to Moscow in 1932 to see the situation for himself and to report on it.
He gets to know various other reporters particularly the charming, cynical
Walter Duranty and is told that the Soviet Union is desperate to gain
diplomatic recognition from the U.S. particularly in view of Hitler’s rise to
power. The authorities entertain these foreign correspondents lavishly but at
the same time expect those correspondents to write reports which are not only
deeply sycophantic but completely untrue. And he observes for himself the
horrific effects of the famine in which (as is now known) untold millions
perished. At the same time they are all being openly watched by the secret
police known as the Cheka or the OGPU. Jones meets a beautiful
Russian/Ukrainian young woman called Evgenia Moronova; he is very much
attracted to her but throughout the book there is a certain ambivalence about
her and he is never quite sure whether she is for or against the regime. Jones
acquires various items of evidence on film about the horrific effects of the
famine; if he gets them to the right quarters the world will know the truth
about the famine. He and Evgenia make desperate attempts to flee, finally
reaching the Black Sea port of Odessa and seeking refuge in the city’s
The story of Gareth
Jones has now been filmed as Mr Jones with
James Norton in the title role. It was due to be released in February of this
year but presumably the current coronavirus pandemic has had the same effect as
on everything else. I look forward to seeing it when it is released.
Sweeney is an award-winning writer and
broadcaster. As a reporter, first for the Observer and then for the BBC,
Sweeney has covered wars and chaos in more than eighty countries and has been
undercover to Chechnya, North Korea and Zimbabwe. He has also helped free seven
people falsely convicted of killing their babies in landmark legal trials in
the UK. Sweeney became a YouTube sensation in 2007 for losing his temper with a
senior member of the Church of Scientology. His first novel, Elephant Moon,
was published to much acclaim
in 2012. His hobby is falling off his bike on the way back from the pub.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.