Author’s note

‘John MacRae’ writes

When I first wrote The Vengeance Man 20 years ago, it was very much a singleton: a one-off thriller based on a mixture of individuals I had come across in my career as an Intelligence Officer with a long association with Special Forces.

The hero was modelled to an extent on a good friend of mine who was an Intelligence Corps and SAS officer; a hard, ruthless man, a genuine real-life James Bond who made Ian Fleming’s character look like a social worker.

Sadly he was killed on active duty many years ago. I wanted the character to be his memorial.

The book was well received and Matt Lynn of Endeavour asked me for follow-up books using the same character.

The only way to do this was to find stories and plots that could be slotted into the gaps in our hero’s life as portrayed in The Vengeance Man – no easy task.

However, between us we succeeded, sending the V Man on a job in the States, and pursuing – through five other books – his private vigilante agenda to take on the low-life of society that seemed to escape conventional justice.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

The last V Man saw Fritz finally unmasked and trapped by both the police and his double-dealing Whitehall masters, who had known about his lethal off-the-books escapades all along.

In the end, to get him out of the way with minimum publicity, Whitehall despatched him on a suicide mission to Afghanistan, where he disappeared missing in action.

With the V Man now gone, Endeavour then suggested a new, younger character to carry on what was clearly a successful thriller series.

So ‘Mike Farrah’ was created, born of a Lebanese Druze father and a pretty Surrey girl.

With his father’s dashing good looks and his mother’s blue eyes, Mike had inherited two special advantages: first, fluent Arabic and a talent for other languages; second, a charm with the ladies. These attributes were how a slightly bored SAS Intelligence Officer came to be recruited for a unique Special Operations/MI6 mission: to seduce and win over the daughter of al-Qaida’s top international banker in order for the MI6 and the CIA to trap and arrest him.

A lot of people want to have a little chat with ‘Big Daddy,’ the banker. In Cairo he does what his mission requires, but events get out of hand – very out of hand – and he is lucky to …

Well, you’ll just have to read In the Name of the Queen and find out what really happens in the end. Trust me, Mike Farrah’s survival is by no means assured. He’s got himself into a right royal mess. Put it this way – Mossad has a long arm and a longer memory.

The second ‘Mike Farrah’ book came about through a friendship with the great-grandson of John Buchan, author of the famous novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps. I was surprised to learn that the book has never been out of print and it remains one of the most famous fictional manhunts.

However the world has changed: Richard Hannay’s fictional adventures were first published in 1915, over a century ago.

So I determined, as both a homage to John Buchan’s masterpiece and as a tribute to my good publishing friend, to write an updated version for the 21st century and our digital age: a modern manhunt.

Thus was born The Westminster Steps, the second title in the ‘In the Name of the Queen’ series, in which Mike Farrah, now a rich civilian and too bored for his own good, gets himself into serious trouble with ISIS, terrorists, the police in five countries and his own duplicitous controllers in Whitehall.

The plot mirrors Hannay’s escapades, but is set in today’s faster-moving world and with some new twists thrown in. It was fun to write and I am told it is ‘unputdownable,’ and ‘great fun to read.’ It’s a book I am proud to have written.

I hope readers share those opinions.

What should Mike Farrah do next? That all depends on how much you trust Whitehall …