Friday, 17 May 2013

Rock Hard, my fourth thriller comes out in a few months

My fourth thriller, ROCK HARD, comes out in  few months. I'm just doing a final few re-reads and edits.

It tells the story of a rock band that gets involved in all kinds of trouble, with murders, drug deals, betrayal... I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

New Book: The Yemeni Betrayal

My new book, The Yemeni Betrayal, is out now as an ebook. You can buy it from or

Here's the blurb:

When Yemeni arms dealers threaten what is most dear to him, former secret service agent Arran Delamaine embarks on a mission of revenge that leaves a trail of blood in its wake.

Former MI6 officer Arran Delamaine and his wife Sylvia fled Yemen when her parents were murdered for delving too deep into the illegal arms trade. Eighteen months later, their life has finally settled in London when a mysterious Interpol agent tries to recruit Arran to investigate the death of a notorious Yemeni arms dealer.

Arran initially refuses, fearful that the past is catching up with him. But when hired guns sent by Yemeni arms dealers turn up on his doorstep and take what is most dear to him, he realises he has no choice.

Teaming up with Interpol, Arran makes his way to Sana’a, the ancient capital of Yemen, to hunt down his enemies and seek justice once and for all.

In a journey that takes him deep into Yemen’s brutal tribal culture, Arran faces a race against time to bring down a major illegal arms cartel before it destroys him and everything he’s ever cared for.

It’s a rainy and cold winter evening and Dr Arran Delamaine is giving a lecture in criminology at the London School of Economics. He left the MI6 secret service a year earlier following a failed mission to Yemen in which his wife Sylvia’s parents were brutally murdered in their hotel bedroom.

Interpol agent Max Zovensky tries to recruit Arran to a new mission to take down an illegal arms trade network in Yemen that is supplying the region’s conflicts. Arran turns down the offer because the bad memories of the failed mission and the murders of the previous year are still too fresh.

But the illegal arms dealers are already on Arran’s case, fearing his reputation and possible involvement with Interpol. Betrayed and let down by the very people who were meant to help him, Arran heads for Yemen on his most dangerous mission yet.

Buy it from or

Monday, 31 December 2012

Watch my author interview on YouTube

Hi everyone,

A friend of mine from the Cambridge Writers group I'm part of recently interviewed me about my two books: the Somali Doctrine and Black Coke.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Guest blog from Ty Johnston

Fantasy author Ty Johnston is touring the blogosphere this month to promote his new e-book novel,Demon Chains. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb, and Ghosts of the Asylum, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords. To learn more about Ty and his writing, follow him at his blog

One of the things that drew me to James Grenton and his blog is his insistence on writing with a social message. As a fiction writer myself, I don’t usually tackle such issues directly, but occasionally I do. I tend to be more philosophical with the thematic backdrops of my writing, preferring to study broader emotional, mental and sometimes spiritual issues.

The big reason I’m not as direct concerning social matters is I don’t feel comfortable enough that I can pull it off without beating the reader over the head with my message. If readers feel they are being lectured to or preached at, they will run away by the droves. And that’s understandable, especially because when we are reading fiction we are most often reading for fun and escapism, not to be fed someone’s opinion. Frankly, don’t we hear enough of other people’s opinions on a daily basis in the news and online?

But some authors can pull this off. They can weave a social message, one of conscious, into their plot without raising the hackles of readers. Really good authors can do this without the readers even realizing it.

James Grenton is one such novelist. I’ve read enough of The Somali Doctrine to be assured of this, and I’m looking forward to picking up Black Coke. I seethe with jealousy. I wish I could write that well, and maybe some day I will.

When a fiction writer has a social message to offer to modern readers, it must be done so delicately. Fiction is entertainment, after all, though that does not mean it can not rise above the trappings of mere recreation.

Some of the greatest novels and writers who ever existed have written fiction with a strong social message, though we do not always take notice.

Obvious examples are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. These two novels are so connected with the message they send, it would be almost impossible to separate them. Just about everything Charles Dickens wrote had a noticeable social message.

But there are other classics which are not generally accepted as containing strong social messages, or the message is ambiguous. What of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace? The deeper elements here are based upon morality, mainly Tolstoy’s studies and beliefs in Christianity, but there are still messages pertaining to war and the economic state of 19th Century nobility and serfdom. What about Hemingway? Or Poe? Do these authors work social commentary into their writings? I believe they do, though again, it’s not always obvious.

Of more modern writers, one of my favorites is the late Ed McBain, also known as Evan Hunter. McBain wrote dozens upon dozens of police procedural novels and other noir-like fiction, but I’ve picked up in each of his novels commentary upon the times in which the book was written. McBain wrote mainly from the early 1950s until his death in 2005, and each decade is represented in his literature, specifically his 87th Precinct novels. Sometimes the commentary is only a single line of dialogue, or a short scene, but it is there.

It seems then, the most action driven, plot oriented fiction can still contain a poignant look at our world. Subtlety is often the author’s key to success in such literature for modern audiences, but if one has a following and knows one audience, the messages can be stronger, more in the front.

To those authors, I doff my hat to them.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Black Coke - my new thriller

Deep in the jungles of Colombia, a brutal and fast-growing drugs cartel has genetically-modified cocaine to make it ten times more powerful and addictive than any other drug. They call it:


Nathan Kershner is an agent with the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency and a former special forces operative. Often working undercover, he has single-handedly brought down some of the most wanted criminals in the world.

But when he clashes with the drugs cartel and tries to stem the flow of Black Coke into Europe and the US, he finds himself up against his most difficult assignment yet.

On a mission that takes him from the crack houses of North London to the underground drug labs of southern Colombia, Nathan enters the darkest regions of the war on drugs, where treachery, greed and violence reign.

With the drugs cartel growing in power by the day, Nathan has to decide just how far he is prepared to go to avert disaster.

Buy BLACK COKE for Amazon Kindle.

What readers have said about James Grenton’s novels:

‘Black Coke is an excellent thriller - one of the best I've ever read.’

‘It's the originality of the writing and the strength of the plot that really worked for me. I couldn't put the book down!’

‘A terrific read and highly recommended.’

‘Grenton's characters are certainly made to suffer, but this is a more grown-up affair than Ludlum's Bourne trilogy - probably a reflection of the moral ambiguity of the modern world in contrast to the clear distinctions of the Cold War. There are no forgone conclusions here, and this is not a comfortable ride for the reader; there are some genuinely shocking moments, and it is hard not to feel tainted by the corruption and compromise of the main characters and events.’

‘A terrific thriller! I simply couldn't put it down, the action keeps you hooked until the last scene.’

‘A real page turner - full of action and excitement throughout. I've not read a book so quickly in years!’

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Nelson Mandela, the Somali famine and the dream of a peaceful Africa

Nelson Mandela has always been a hero for me. He symbolises everything that is positive about Africa. A desire to overcome the odds. A deep outrage at injustice. A strong belief in the value of diversity.

‘I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself,’ Mandela once said. ‘I dream of the realisation of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses. ‘

That’s why the famine in Somalia affects me so profoundly. It’s a crisis caused by disunity and war. Yes, there’s been persistent drought, but a key cause of the famine is the years of conflict that has torn the country apart.

I visited Somaliland, in north-west Somalia, eight years ago. Somaliland is an unrecognised, self-proclaimed republic. It broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991, its people fed up with the decades of civil war. It’s a beautiful country: vast deserts, nomads, traditional huts –the kind of landscapes Mandela would admire.

But it also bears the marks of years of conflict: abandoned tanks by the side or the road, minefields, psychologically-devastated war veterans stumbling around the streets of Hargeisa.

I was working for an NGO at the time. I spent 10 days there visiting local NGOs, visiting aid camps, speaking to the Somali people. I was touched by their resilience, their friendliness, their desire to build a better life in the face of such overwhelming odds.

But I came back distraught and shocked at the history of Somalia: how the country was manipulated by the Cold War powers, how arms dealers continue to fuel the conflict by providing weapons to armed factions, how the Western media only ever portray Somalia when there’s conflict or famine.

For years, I mulled over this. I went back to university and did a PhD in sociology and media studies. I wanted to understand why the media portray Africa so negatively and what effect this has on us. I wanted to understand why we only ever think of Africa as a continent devastated by war, famine and disease. I wanted to understand why Mandela’s vision of a peaceful Africa still seems such a distant dream.

On Friday, I picked up a tabloid newspaper in a cafe. There was a two-page spread about the Somali crisis. It was asking for donations, which is good. But the full page picture of an emaciated Somali child, with stick-thin arms and legs and blood-shot eyes, shocked me. The child was just a few years old, yet it looked 90.

I know that newspapers and charity fundraisers say that shock pictures of Africa lead to donations. I know that tugging at the heart strings is a very effective way of encouraging people to donate. I know that we urgently need money to help the Somali people.

But are such photos the best way of doing it? Is it dignified to show a poor, starving Somali child? What image does it create in our minds about Africa if all we ever show are pictures of starving babies or gun-crazed terrorists?

In the long run, it creates compassion fatigue and a feeling that Africa will never get better. The public is generous and continues to donate, but many of them think here’s yet another famine, with yet more starving babies and yet more murderous war lords.

There must be another way of raising funds for Somalia. A way that doesn’t involve repeatedly showing such shock tactics. A way that respects the Somali people and doesn’t show them as desperate and needy of hand-outs.

The Somalis I met were dignified, upright and hard working people. They traded in the markets, ran local NGOs to help their country men and women, campaigned for women’s rights. They believed in peace, put their lives at risk, distributed aid in relief camps. These are the kinds of stories we need.

And that’s the reason why I wrote this novel, The Somali Doctrine. I love thrillers and I love action stories. My hero is an Interpol agent who is sent to Somaliland to investigate a fictitious NGO, which I call Universal Action. He meets all the kinds of bad guys you’d expect in a thriller: psychopaths, mercenaries, secret agents. And the reader reviews are loving it.

But I also use the novel to highlight the problems caused by the mass media and NGOs in their portrayal of Africa. And that’s why I think it’s so relevant to the crisis in Somalia. If we want a long-term solution to Somalia and Africa’s problems, we have to start at home, with how our newspapers and charities portray Somali and African people.

We need to portray the Somali people how they really are: resilient, positive, hard working, capable of resolving their problems without outside interference. That’s how we’ll help Somalia avoid further war and famines and achieve Mandela’s vision of peace.

I hope you enjoy reading The Somali Doctrine. It's first and foremost a thriller, which I hope you'll find entertaining, but one with a strong social message.

$0.99 Kindle ebook of the Somali Doctrine

$0.99 all other formats

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Somali Doctrine

A new thriller...

A dying man in the desert...
A massacre in a refugee camp...
A missing aid convoy...
And suddenly Interpol agent Jim Galespi is running for his life.


In The Somali Doctrine, an Interpol agent makes it his mission to stop the remorseless madmen at the helm of the world’s largest NGO.

From the deserts of Somaliland to the slums of Nairobi to the plush hotels of Cape Town all the way to the Department for International Development in London, the race is on to stop disaster from striking again. And again. And again.

$0.99 Kindle ebook of the Somali Doctrine

$0.99 all other formats

83,000 words. Cover art by Jeroen ten Berge. Ebook design by 52 Novels.