Century bags 'explosive', anonymously-authored US conspiracy thriller

Century bags 'explosive', anonymously-authored US conspiracy thriller

Century will this month publish a US conspiracy thriller - "rooted in real life, but not 'a true story'" - featuring "a controversial and wealthy tycoon who is running for President of the United States and a former porn star who is ready to go public with details of their affair".

The Kingfisher Secret, out on October 18th, is anonymously authored by "a respected journalist", according to Cornerstone, whose identity the publisher said it has to keep secret "in order to protect the source for the ideas which inspired the novel". The book's UK editor Selina Walker said this had meant conversations around the book had to conducted through secure apps and password-protected material.

Said to be inspired by "whispers from within the intelligence community", The Kingfisher Secret opens on the eve of the 2016 American election, when a journalist working to break the story of a presidential candidate's affair is told to bury it for political reasons. When she is then sent to Europe to resume her work as a ghostwriter for the candidate’s ex-wife - a no-nonsense Czech businesswoman who 'writes' a column for the publication - the journalist stumbles on a shocking story about how the man who is about to be president has made it as far as he has, and the threat his election victory poses to the western world.

Walker, publisher of Century and Arrow, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Jared Bland, publisher of McClelland & Stewart. Describing it a "highly charged novel of intrigue and deception", Century will publish the book in the UK and Commonwealth on 18th October alongside McClelland & Stewart in the United States and Heyne in Gemany.

The book is said to have come about when, in autumn 2017, the author was approached by a man who previously worked as a spy for North American intelligence agencies, with an idea for a story. "There is a spy in the White House," he said, and revealed a theory centred around a Czech woman. The author's subsequent research in Prague was unable to trace records of the woman in question, but the Cibulka, a book published in Prague that outed the names of Russian collaborators, included the names of her parents, her mother having a codename, Vrba, meaning 'willow'.

"At this point, the author’s imagination took over and The Kingfisher Secret came to life," Century says. "Within the source’s immediate group there was often discussion and speculation about the identity of the 'swallows' – women who worked for the Czech secret service and were encouraged to 'land' rich and prominent Americans. Though based on circumstantial evidence, rumours persisted among the Czech community that one swallow may have married one of the most powerful men of all."

Walker commented: "This is a story that had to be told. I realised straightaway not only how explosive the book could be, but also that our anonymous author and his secret source were at personal risk, and that we had to protect them ... The Kingfisher Secret is a gripping, hugely intriguing conspiracy thriller that has at its heart the origins of a tangled, toxic international relationship that consumes us all. It is THE issue of the day – the one we are all talking about – 'how did it happen and why?'. This book answers this mystery with a story that, if true, would explain absolutely everything."

The book is, emphasises Century a work of fiction, but one that allows readers to see parallels to the present-day world.