What's that you say? You don't know who Rupert Hood is? Good lord, then you need to hasten along and buy his first adventure, read it, and then get back to me.
In fact, if you hasten hastily enough, you don't even need to buy it. It's available today on free download. My wily publisher believes this will boost the sales of the new book.
I certainly hope so because the new book, Event Driven, is a giant leap forward for Rupert Hood, everybody's favourite secret agent masquerading as an estate agent. (Well okay, my favourite)
You see Operation Herod, the first book was written about three years ago.
I sat down to write a high octane espionage thriller with an interesting villain and some memorable action set pieces. Me being me, it also had a distinct comic edge.
The book got me an agent — indeed one of the top agents in the country (hi, Julian) but despite his heroic efforts he couldn't win a publishing deal for the book. He was as frustrated as I was. The difficulty seemed to be that no one could grasp the notion of a thriller with some humour in it.
I particularly cherish one email he sent, updating me on the latest response: "Boring rejection, sadly typical of feeble minded editors."
Fast-forward three years. A far from feeble minded editor at a new e-publishing house, Endeavour Press, contacted me to see if I had any unpublished material they could look at. Indeed I did. And so Operation Herod saw the light of day.
However, I hadn't been idle in those intervening years. I'd written three (count 'em) other books. You'll be hearing more about those shortly.
But the crucial thing is this: writing is a craft that you learn by doing. You improve through practise. I am a considerably better writer now thanks to the experience of fashioning those other novels.
Which is why Event Driven is more fun than Operation Herod and a superior piece of work. At least I think so.
And so does my publisher and my editor. My friend Ben will think so too, when he reads it.
Far from being the difficult second novel it was a sheer pleasure to write, and I'm delighted to see it out there. the only difficult thing was getting the cover right (I loved the cover for Operation Herod).
I've included various versions of prospective cover designs here for your consideration. My personal favourite? The strongest, graphically speaking, is definitely the one with the red shoe on it which is the work of my friend the brilliant designer Peri Godbold. Sadly it wasn't considered quite butch enough.
What's my reaction to the final choice?
Well, I'm a little concerned that people will think I'd put ice cubes in a glass of good single malt whisky. James Bond would never approve.
Neither would Rupert Hood.