When I first started this blog back in the mists of time, my first blog post was a review of Graham’s first book The Hidden Legacy (which I loved – you can see it here). I’m therefore delighted to see that Graham’s career has gone from strength to strength and today sees the publication of his fourth book The Syndicate.
The book is described as Gangs of London meets Martina Cole in a gripping thriller of betrayal and survival in a world where one mistake could cost you everything. Here’s the blurb,
YOU THINK YOU’RE FREE, BUT THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE . . .
Twenty years ago, Jon Kavanagh worked for a crime syndicate.
Then one night he made a mistake.
He left a witness at a crime scene. Alive.
Now, he is haunted by the memories of that young girl. Her face a constant reminder of the life he chose to leave behind. Time has passed and now he wants answers: What ever happened to her?
Anna Hill is an aspiring singer, but the bars and clubs she works in are far from exciting. When she is given the opportunity to work in Portugal, she takes it. This is her chance to finally kick-start her career.
But the job offer comes at a price; one that will endanger the lives of those she knows, and those she doesn’t. Becoming involved with the Syndicate is risky, and Anna will need her instincts to work out who to trust – and who not to . . .
Here’s Graham’s A-Z of The Syndicate (used with kind permission from the author)
A is for Anna. Tourist guide in London by day, jazz pianist and vocalist by night, trudging from club to club, hoping for that one breakthrough that will change her life. Careful what you wish for.
B is for Books, the only true companions Jon Kavanagh has ever found in life. People lie. People cheat. Books provide a refuge, a world to which he can retreat when life lets him down . . . which it does repeatedly.
C is for Cristianos or Cristi’s to use its more familiar shortened form. Fictitious restaurant and night club on the outskirts of Praia D’El Rey on Portugal’s Silver Coast. The resort is real and a wonderful holiday destination, the last place you’d ever come across someone like Vic Abraham. Cristi’s was invented to provide a stark contrast to the natural beauty and tranquility of the surroundings.
D is for Durdle Door in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Many people will either have visited it or seen photos of the iconic rock formation and the paths that lead up from Lulworth Cove and over the hill.
Some people actually run up the series of steps to the top. Others prefer to smile and say they could have done it when they were younger. It’s not far from Wareham where Jon Kavanagh now owns a bookshop, having left behind his life in London.
E is for Enforcer. This used to be Kavanagh’s role in the Syndicate once he’d left the army. He’s followed Maurice there, in search of family, a place where he belongs. He thinks he’s found it. He’s wrong.
F is for Family. There is a large hole in Kavanagh’s life, hollowed out by a series of tragedies and betrayals. It’s only when he leaves London and arrives in Wareham that he realises he’s been looking in the wrong place all this time.
G is for Ghosts. Kavanagh is haunted by a series of events in the past. For many of these he knows he is personally responsible. For two in particular, he cannot forgive himself.
There’s nothing he can do about one. The other offers a chance of redemption. For him, that’s all that matters now.
H is for Hayes, Maurice. Leader of The Syndicate and father figure to Kavanagh. And fathers never disappoint their sons . . . do they?
I is for Insurance. Non-negotiable rule . . . no one leaves The Syndicate.
If Kavanagh is going to leave the life he’s led for the past 8 years in London, he’s going to need an effective insurance policy.
J is for Jimmy. Maurice’s youngest son has never forgiven Kavanagh for showing him up as a teenager in front of his friends. On a deeper level, he’s always resented the preferential treatment Kavanagh appears to have been receiving, attention which he feels should have been his. Someday, he tells himself . . . someday.
Jessica Murphy. A three-year-old innocent catalyst who changes everything for Kavanagh.
K is for Katy Kavanagh, his younger sister . . . and another ghost who won’t let go .
L is for Lowe, Adrian. Kavanagh doesn’t have friends but the task he has set himself is not something he can do alone. He has to trust someone . . . and Lowe feels like the safest option.
M is for Murphy, Leon. Father of Jessica. Kavanagh feels he can eke out some sort of justification for most things Maurice has asked him to do. One night in March 1999 will change that perception forever.
N is for No Witnesses. No exceptions. The instructions are clear and Kavanagh understands them perfectly. But understanding is one thing. Living with the consequences is another.
Nuclear deterrent. It works as long as both people with a finger on the button are capable of acting rationally and considering the broader implications. But what if one of them is replaced?
O is for Obidos. A medieval walled town with a picturesque lagoon nearby, only a short drive from Praia D’El Rey. Setting for a crucial scene in which Kavanagh begins to realise what he’s up against.
Oath of the Legions (sic). Taken by nine-year-old Jonny to gain membership to The Spartacus Gang. His first indication that swearing allegiance and being included are not necessarily the same thing.
P is for Praia D’El Rey, the setting for the final third of the novel. It’s a resort built around an attractive golf course but we’ve been there twice and I’ve never been remotely tempted to go for 18 holes.
The beach, the climate, the surrounding countryside and the sea especially are such tempting alternatives. Be warned though . . . the water is every bit as bracing and wild as the book suggests.
Q is for Quai Inn, Wareham. Setting for a crucial first meeting between Kavanagh and Jimmy. It’s a lovely pub restaurant which we visited while I was doing my research and I can definitely recommend the food and the friendliness of the staff.
R is for Redemption. All that Kavanagh wants now. He is a man on a mission.
S is for Syndicate . . . of course. But it’s also for . . .
Scar. The unsightly legacy from a bomb blast, it covers half of Kavanagh’s face and is a metaphor for the significant scarring within.
T is for Tyneham. Cannot emphasise too strongly how affected I was by my visit to this ghost village just a short drive from Lulworth and Wareham.
The details in the novel are all true but I can only hope to convey a sense of the heartbreaking history of the village that was taken from its inhabitants by an unflinching bureaucracy with more pressing concerns.
Google it . . . or better still, visit it and see if it has the same effect on you as it did on Kavanagh.
U is for Ultimatum. “You’re not going to come out of it unscathed, Maurice. It’s going to hurt like hell and at some point you’re going to ask yourself if it was worth destroying this empire you’ve built for the sake of bringing some upstart rogue employee to his knees.”
V is for Vic Abraham, old-school sociopath, whose determination to put Kavanagh in his place is something you dismiss at your peril.
W is for Wareham. Historic market town and pretty riverside location in Dorset.
The cottage on its outskirts, which Kavanagh has inherited from his grandparents, provides a bolthole to which he can escape and pull up the drawbridge.
But just how safe is he?
X is for Xit Strategy (typo). No one leaves The Syndicate but, if you’re going to try, you need one of these. And it had better be a good one.
Y is for Yes . . . I cheated a bit with X.
You think I’ll do the same with Z, I suppose.
Z: Zelda’s. The locals in Wareham are intrigued by the name Kavanagh has chosen for his bookshop. Some think it might commemorate some sort of romantic attachment in his past, the one who got away. They should read more widely.
I know I’m certainly keen to read it after all that, but what are other people saying about it?
Brilliant characterisation and such a tense, winding plot. I loved the way Graham wove the story together, Lisa Hall
A damaged but engaging central character, sharp dialogue, twisty plot and great pay-off – The Syndicate has all the ingredients of an excellent thriller, Simon Brett
The Syndicate is a gripping story that builds to a stunning conclusion. GJ Minett’s Kavanagh is a complex and original creation; a man haunted by his past and living on borrowed time, Howard Linksey
Captivating, cleverly written, unputdownable. I devoured The Syndicate in one night. Minett and crime at its finest, Rebecca Thornton
I absolutely loved it. I raced through this book. A beautifully written, character-focused novel that reminded me of George Pelecanos at his best. Definitely one of my reads of the year so far, David Jackson
Pacey, heart-stopping and poignant, Julie Corbin
‘This is GJ Minett’s best yet. Absorbing, nuanced and emotive. A superior thriller with a real sucker punch of a twist.’, Chris Whitaker
With Kavanagh, Minett has created the ultimate hero – dark, dangerous but with a depth of heart. If I was in trouble, I’d want Kavanagh in my corner. The Syndicate is a truly sinuous suspense that when you think you’ve got it worked out, has a resolution that snaps back and bites. More please, Kate Bradley
That rare type of novel that manages to be subtle, compassionate and with a real moral heart, but at the same time packed with enough twists and turns to the point you can’t put it down. And Kavanagh is exactly my kind of hero – laconic, no-nonsense, but also credible and relatable – the sort of reluctant leading man that I can’t get enough of. A really entertaining read, but made exceptional my the emotional punch it carries, Rod Reynolds
In The Syndicate, G.J Minett has brought us a compelling, intricately-plotted novel peopled with fascinating characters, particularly the brilliantly drawn Jon Kavanagh, in whose outcome I was completely invested throughout. The writing is superb, the story intriguing and what an ending. Wow!, Gill Thompson
About the Author
Graham Minett was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and lived there for 18 years before studying for a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge.
He taught for several years, first in Cheltenham and then in West Sussex before opting to go part-time and start an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Completing the course in 2008, he gained a distinction for the dissertation under the guidance of novelist, Alison MacLeod and almost immediately won the Segora Short Story Competition with ‘On the Way Out’.
Other awards soon followed, most notably his success in the 2010 Chapter One novel competition with what would eventually become the opening pages of his debut novel, The Hidden Legacy. This was followed by Lie In Wait and Anything For Her, all three novels published by Bonnier Zaffre as eBooks, paperbacks and audio books. His fourth book, The Syndicate will be published on 9th July.
Graham lives in West Sussex and now writes full-time. He is in the initial planning stages for book five.
Graham loves to meet the people who have enjoyed his novels and is happy to visit book clubs or other groups to talk about the books or his journey to becoming a published author. To request this, please make contact here.
Other Books by the Author