Fresh Blood

Name: Andrew Grant

Title of Book: Even

' intelligent thriller where you actually care about the people involved.'

Making his way back to the hotel after a solitary dinner, David Trevellyan notices in the mouth of an alleyway a homeless man shot dead. Within minutes, a police car arrives and David finds himself being arrested for the killing. Later, after being escorted to the FBI offices, David finds out that a bogus call was made implicating him in the murder… and that the tramp was an underground FBI operative.

Putting his Royal Navy Intelligence to use, David uses all his cunning to keep one step ahead of the Feds. Even when David escapes the FBI he is rapidly picked up by another outfit – the ones who actually killed the FBI operative, albeit by accident. But what is their reason for going around killing homeless people? David now seems to be caught up in a bigger scheme than even he realised and it appears that machinations from the Iraq war are now included.

As David digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole he has to use all his Navy expertise to get himself and others out of a huge operation that could take hundreds of people to an early grave.

'Even' is a huge, labyrinth of a book. The story twists and turns and you are never sure who can be trusted and who can’t – right up until the last page.

Grant has created a suave yet deadly character in the form of David Trevellyan. With his Royal Navy background he has the means to kill without compunction if it means he gets out of the situation alive.

Every chapter starts with a reminiscence of Trevellyan’s training when a young cadet. If all of these memories are based in some semblance of truth about Army/Navy training then David would definitely have gone through the mill to become the efficient killing machine.

Grant writes with confidence and it is clear from the writing that he is already comfortable to take the reader by the hand and make him/her believe in the unfolding events. Grant does not only give the reader a strong, exciting story to get their teeth into, but the writing fleshes out the characters so that they don’t simply become disposable plot devices.

'Even' works on two levels. First it delivers a thumping good read that will have any reader steamrollering through the pages, but the book is more than candy floss for the mind. It is an intelligent thriller where you actually care about the people involved. This is a very strong start to what could be the equivalent to Fleming’s Bond or even the best from le Carre himself. And all the better for that!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) How would you classify your writing, and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
Genre classification is always hard, but if pushed I’d say my writing combines elements of crime, spy, and old-fashioned action adventure novels. I don’t consciously aim for a certain style – my approach is simply to include all the aspects of crime thrillers that I like, and none that I dislike.
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I like any crime fiction that features strong, complex characters and fast, exciting plot development. I’ve read many fantastic standalones over the years but given the choice, I always prefer a series. Nothing beats the anticipation of waiting for the next adventure involving a favourite hero…
3) You make no secret that your brother is the author, Lee Child and that you are going on tour together. What sort of advice/help did you get from Lee when starting out to write ‘Even’?
Having another author in the family certainly gave me a good insight into the workings of the publishing industry, but Lee gave me no specific help or advice when it came to writing EVEN. We lived on different continents, had different agents, different publishers, and were at very different points in our careers when I began work on the book. He was broadly supportive, but as things worked out Lee didn’t actually catch sight of the manuscript until after St Martins had already bought it.
4) David Trevellyn is quintessentially British. However, like your brother’s creation, Jack Reacher, Trevellyn also has a military background. How difficult/easy was it for you to make David his own man and not get lost in Reacher’s shadow?
Despite their service backgrounds I never really considered that Reacher would cast his shadow in Trevellyan’s direction. I chose the specific military background for my main character for three reasons – to explain his arsenal of special skills, to give him the opportunity to be involved in as wide a range of situations as possible, and to make it plausible for him to travel to new locations all over the world.
5) Part of the plot in ‘Even’ is about identity theft. You explain this matter in some detail. How did you manage to research this area?
My original interest stemmed from a newspaper article I stumbled across which described various forms of fraud that had recently been attempted. I found one of these – identity theft – particularly fascinating, and went on to carry out lots more research using books, magazines, and the internet.
6) Trevellyn has a few suave traits and is a bit like a James Bond for the 21st Century. Did you make these similarities deliberate? Have you always been a Bond fan?
Trevellyan has been compared with Bond, and also Jason Bourne. This is very flattering, but I hope that in time readers will enjoy seeing him develop as a character in his own right. My aim was to create a hero who was shaped by his own internal values – such as the importance of doing right for its own sake – rather than being the product of external circumstances.

Though I must admit to be being a life-long Bond fan…
7) ‘Even’ has some extremely nasty characters (some could even be Bond villains!). Did you enjoy creating these characters? Where did you get the idea of Lesley and her original way of dealing with insubordination?!!!
Creating all the characters – nasty and nice – was one of the most enjoyable parts of writing the book. Getting to choose who’ll be a hero and who’ll be a villain is one of the biggest luxuries of being an author. And when it came to the villains, I was conscious that they had pretty big shoes to fill in order to be worthy adversaries for Trevellyan. I didn’t set out imagining that Lesley would use such ‘orginal ways,’ but the more I fleshed out her character, the more it seemed to suit her – as a person, and as a criminal.
8) Do you see any trends in Crime and Thriller novels for 2009 and beyond?
I think that given the current gloomy economic situation and sense of political mistrust, thrillers featuring heroes who are prepared to stand up and be counted – and not yield to authority figures – will continue to be popular.
9) Who would be your dream cast of movie actors for an adaptation of your story?
That is a good question, because I have spent a lot of time dreaming about this. And soon, I hope to have something more concrete to talk about …
10) Without giving away the plot, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Ice Station Zebra, by Alistair Maclean.
11) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Carlito’s Way, which was adapted from the novels Carlito’s Way and After Hours by Edwin Torres.
12) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
I would definitely describe myself as a crime fiction fan. I most admire authors like Michael Connelly and John Sandford who have been able to establish an enduring hero and then build a vibrant series around them, always moving things forward without allowing the character to grow stale or their plots to become predictable.
13) What is your favourite read crime of all time?
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly.