The works of Henry Smith

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A Desert Hotel (1981)

Imagine an author's pleasure when a publisher actually wants to put one of his books into print after years of rejection! In that state of euphoria, the author has no problems with a few conditions, like: The book's too long, please shorten it to fit our format, and Can we have another title, please?
    And when the British publisher sells the abridged edition to a US publishing house, well, another change of title is no problem. The author is getting quite good at inventing them.
    Finally, the author gets the opportunity to see a complete version of the book with the original title on his bookshelf courtesy of Farrago & Farrago. Honour satisfied, ambition achieved.
 

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Allah's Thunder (1988)

This book was finished off in 1995, long before Chechnya was so prominently in the news and so actively at war with Russia, but the Russians in this work of fiction are giving out messages very similar to Vladimir Putin's current warnings to the West. And who can doubt that the CIA and similar outfits are not plotting their own drastic actions?
    The author has combined a number of his fields of interest to weave a tale of ambitions, unthinkable (?) risks and nuclear engineering on a world-shaking scale. The fascinating thing about this book is that it could just happen if people with sufficient determination and the resources choose to make it happen - and change the face of the Middle East forever.
 

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Read The NovelDeath In Small Corners (1983)

Trust a crime-writer to become involved in mystery and intrigue in his dealings with a publisher. One of the Robert Hale readers posted the original typescript of this book back to the publisher - and it just disappeared into whatever oubliette the Royal Mail uses for its permanent prisoners, never to be seen ever again.
    The typescript's possible fate was the subject of quite a lot of speculation. The most popular views were (a) that someone wanted to suppress it, either because it shone a bright light on a guilty secret or because it was too full of blood and violence, and (b) that a time-traveller had grabbed it so that he could make a fortune selling it when the author was safely dead.
    Of course, all this had to happen in the years BPC - before personal computers - when re-creating a typescript meant a couple of weeks hard effort at a typewriter and a lot more proof-reading and correction of typing errors. Luckily, the publisher was prepared to work from a rather grotty carbon copy; but it had to be photocopied to make sure that if the Royal Mail kidnapped the carbon copy too, there was another on-paper back-up.
    Writers working in the era of affordable personal computers and laser printers don't know they're born; or so Mr. Smith and his colleagues of similar vintage would have us believe.
 

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Read The NovelDeath Is A Stranger (1984)

Some characters won't go away. Royle is a case in point. Writing a book to a "small library standard size, 192 pages maximum" format can leave the author with ideas left over and threads to continue. This is the second of a sequence which reached four books before other things claimed the author's attention.
   But that's not the end of the matter. There are still ideas floating around and pages and pages of notes for novel number 5 in the sequence. Be warned - that book will also be written. Some day.
 

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Death On The Record (1987)

This is the 3rd book in the sequence about Johnny Royle. It follows Death In Small Corners and Death Is A Stranger. And what can we say? If Royle's about, the mayhem continues. His job as an international courier has a whole lot of potential for leading him into trouble and people who are up to no good keep picking up on him. Luckily, he still has his assassin friend around to watch his back.
 

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Death From High Ground (1997)

There's a rumour going round that the 5th Royle book - if the author ever gets round to finishing it - won't have a 4-word title beginning with Death. He feels that the concept has now run its course. Anyway, you know where you are from the title of this 4th book in the series which, the author tells us, is a bit of a scene-setter for the further mayhem planned in volume 5.
   Royle's casual work with the 'Funny Mob' leaves him with inconvenient knowledge and puts him at increasing risk of someone 'doing something about him' as an exercise in tidying up. A power struggle is on the way and Royle and Parker are both going to end up involved in it.
 

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Doppelgänger (1989)

There are a number of 'real history' works floating around Romiley Literary Circle and this is one of them. Set toward the end of World War Two, it goes behind the scenes of the Third Reich to give some insight into what really happened when the Nazi regime collapsed and how they got away with it some of the time.
    This volume covers events around the Stauffenberg bomb plot in the summer of 1944. The story is continued in a second volume called Wacht Am Rhein, which is still in preparation.
 

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Sergeant Enterprise (1976)

Author's notes:
   I wrote the first draft of this novel using a fountain pen [a 21st birthday present] and an old exercise book left over from my student days. I bashed out the words for the next and subsequent drafts on my portable typewriter.
   Eventually, I spent ages typing and correcting a double-spaced manuscript and a synopsis, which was rejected by umpteen publishers before I gave up trying to shift this particular book.
   Twenty-odd years later, I put the typescript through a scanner linked to a personal computer running Windows 95 and an optical character recognition program. Then I scanned a cutting from the Daily Mail in the original notes binder to create a picture for the front cover.
   After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in WordPerfect 6.2 for DOS, I completed my page layouts and printed what was to be the twenty-fourth volume in the Romiley Literary Circle publishing programme.
   Which only goes to show that the determined author, who really wants to see his work on a bookshelf in a proper printed form, can't be beaten if he won't give up.
   Although this book was written in the mid-1970s, the same themes and conflicts are still around at the start of the third millennium. All it needs is a few small shifts of focus, and allowance for inflation, to bring it bang up to date. I'm not sure whether or not this is grounds for celebration.
   Henry Smith, 19th February, 1998/05th August, 2001.
 

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Major Achievements (1977)

There was a lot of stuff left over at the end of Sergeant Enterprise and the author was still keen to pursue the theme. So there had to be a second volume. This is it.
Additional Note : One of the themes of this book, cooked up in 1977 when another Labour government was trying to demolish the armed services, was that the military could provide equipment, such as tanks, to film makers. All this was done on an unofficial, private enterprise basis in the book but thirty or so years later, in 2005, the Labour government has decided to encourage the Ministry of Defence to rent out troops and equipment to film companies as a money-making scheme.
   Another idea by an RLC author finds its time & context!
 

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Merchant Submarine (1983)

And lo! From the bits left over from Sergeant Enterprise and Major Achievements, plus some new inspiration from the world beyond the author's front door, there came the final volume of the trilogy.
 

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Parachute For Sale (1979)

For an author who specializes in viewing World War Two from the German perspective, this is a rare excusion to the British side for another of his historical novels.
    As with the other WW2 novels, this one follows the lives of men who are living, and dying, at breaking point. Some resort to rituals as a means of giving their lives structure, others give in to an irresitible impulse to go their own way and the rest just try to do their best to survive.
 

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A Rush of Blood (1986)

This is the final book of the Robert Hale contract and another which had to be abridged to fit that company's 192 page format for library books.
    It is a novel of conflict, in which a couple are kidnapped. Catherine Windrell and Richard Rhynn-Windrell both belong to cadet branches of the family of the Norfolk-based earls of Windrell and they don't get on. Stuck in a small, cold cell, they are forced to learn how to co-operate..
    The leader of the kidnappers is confident that his plan is foolproof and that they will be able to collect the ransom, release the prisoners and just fade into the background. But life ain't that simple, especially when two bored and angry prisoners let their imaginations run riot.
 

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