Sunday 12 February 2017

Book 3

Six years ago today I started this blog – so it seems an apt moment to end it. No, not end... the better way to put it is: take a break. I can’t believe everything that has happened in those years. I’ve published two novels; had a slew of reviews from some of the most prestigious publications in the world; appeared on radio and TV; been on foreign book tours; travelled to three continents on research trips; had the pleasure of meeting my readers. For someone who always dreamed of being a writer, it is the dream come true.

And now it’s time for a hiatus. I’m currently working on a new novel and want to concentrate all my efforts on that. This new project is not an Afrika book; I need a break from Nazis! That said, I do intend to finish my trilogy, and with that in mind I thought I’d say a few words about BOOK 3 as I head off.

Although The Madagaskar Plan is a standalone book, if you’ve read it you will know that several narrative strands have yet to conclude and that the fates of the characters remain unresolved.

I often mention the psychedelic version of The Afrika Reich, the version that was never published. Putting aside the issue of its surreal, acid-trip aesthetic, another reason publishers didn’t like it was because it was too long, coming in at 250 000+ words. When I re-imagined this version as a thriller I divided the original into three parts: the first set in Congo, the second in Madagascar. The final segment was set around the death camps of the Sahara. This is the basis for Book 3. I plotted it out in 2007 and in the decade since have been mulling it over in my mind. It is an extraordinary odyssey through the deserts of North Africa during the dying days of Nazi rule. I hope it will be a fitting end to Burton’s and Hochburg’s story.

I’ll add more details and information about Book 3 as and when I have them, including a likely publication date. In the meantime why not check out the AFRIKA 3 page on my website. There you’ll find a brief outline of the plot as well as a chance for you to decide what the final book in the AFRIKA REICH TRILOGY will be called.

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you enjoyed the A to Z of The Afrika Reich and The Madagaskar Plan. I hope you enjoyed the books. If you did, please do encourage your friends to buy them; leave a review on Amazon/Goodreads; and generally help spread the word. Every copy of Books 1 & 2 sold, brings 3 closer to publication. I can’t wait to tell you how it all ends...

PS – although I won’t be adding any more entries to this blog for the foreseeable future, I will be monitoring it. So do keep your comments coming.

Saturday 28 January 2017

L is for LETTER

In the final stages of writing The Madagaskar Plan several issues became evident. The first was that I was running out of time. The book had originally been scheduled for a February 2012 publication date. This soon became 2013. Eventually I committed to summer 2015 even as I was struggling to finish it. (This meant delivering the manuscript by October 2014.) The second problem was word length. I was contracted to write a book between 110-120 000 words. It soon obvious that Madagaskar would be longer. I was asked not to exceed 150 000, the point at which production costs escalate sharply. By the summer of 2014 I had broken the 170 000 mark!

Issue number three came when my UK editor read the manuscript for the first time. He was concerned it wasn’t sufficiently stand-alone. He felt it referred back to The Afrika Reich too much and that this would deter new readers. Given the gap between Books 1 and 2, he was also concerned that readers of the original wouldn’t remember what had happened. As he said, ‘it’s fine if [readers] finish the first book and immediately start the second... but you can’t assume that will be the case.’ After pondering this advice I thought it made good commercial sense, so I removed many of the references to Afrika Reich e.g. mentions of Dolan and Ackerman.

All of which leads to the most substantial cut I made from Madagaskar.

There are two versions of The Madagaskar Plan. The one that was published, which you hopefully bought and read; and what I call the ‘trilogy edition’.

The major strand I cut was intended to link all three books of the trilogy. It begins in Chapter 6, when Burton’s aunt gives him a bundle of letters. They are from Eleanor, Burton’s mother. Although she never actually appears in the books, she is one of its most significant presences and I wanted her to have an opportunity to speak in her own voice – like Ma Bundren does in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. In the LETTER there is a mind-blowing revelation about Hochburg, something now completely cut from the published version of the book (though I wrote his character with it in mind). This revelation was to have resonance in Madagaskar but much more significance in Book 3, leading to yet another shock... so I’m going to have to find an ingenious way to shoe it into the third book.

In a final ironic twist, Burton never actually reads the letters. Instead their contents are read by Kepplar. This happens approximately half way through Madagaskar, which means halfway through the entire trilogy and in many ways is the scene upon which the trilogy pivots, so it was a shame to cut it. I won’t reveal the contents of the letter but here is the original, deleted passage that leads up to it. [Spoiler alert.] It comes as Kepplar is searching Burton’s room in Roscherhafen:

"In the bedside cabinet [Kepplar] discovered an American passport and a bundle of letters liver-spotted with age. He flicked through them. They were the tawdry outpourings of an unknown female, the type of nonsense his wife would have indulged in if he hadn’t forbidden her; they offered no clue as to where Cole might go next. He was about to discard them when a word caught his eye.
He read more closely and saw it appear again, then with increasing frequency.
Kepplar returned to the top letter and worked methodically through them. He had finished a dozen pages before he came across the first reference to Walter Hochburg, son of a missionary family. He knew nothing about his former master’s past: the revelation caused his stomach to flutter, Hochburg despised the church. Yet a man was not his parents. Kepplar’s father had died of septicaemia during the Great War, he barely remembered him; his mother had called him a traitor to everything decent for joining the Party. A paragraph later there was a description of Hochburg with his ‘cascade of raven-black locks’. That made Kepplar simper; soon his lips were narrow. He read till it grew too dark, flicked on the overhead light, paced the narrow room undecided whether he could bear to know more. His skin felt dank, like he wanted to shed it.
Eventually, he sat and continued until the final letter. It was dated [month], 1930, Lomé, in what had been British Togoland. When he finished, he twisted the lobe of his missing ear until it stung. He read the letter a second time and wished there were some matches in his pocket.
Kepplar pushed back his seat, the sound scraping through him, and walked to the balcony: he needed to taste air. Floodlights cast the beach in a harsh monochrome, a few couples walked along the sand. He stood watching the breakers until far across the ocean the clouds flared for an instant. Kepplar counted the seconds that followed, the way he used to as a boy, waiting for the thunder.
Silence was his only reply."

The next chapter was to be the letter itself. Three thousand words of ‘confession’ from Eleanor. Having read it, Kepplar’s attitude towards Hochburg shifts. Later Hochburg takes possession of the letters. The reader would know what was written in them but the person they most affect – Burton – would remain ignorant of their contents.

All the sections surrounding the letter were written up to the fifth draft (of six) of the book. I had a good working version of the letter itself... but never finished it to a level I was pleased with. But by now time was against me. Add the standalone issue and the need to trim the word count and it seemed the most obvious strand to remove from the book. In a single chop, it reduced the length by 15 000 words. The only trace of the letter that remains is the epigraph to Part I.

Of course now I have two different versions of the book on different trajectories. The overall arc of the trilogy remains the same, but without Eleanor’s letter, the journey there will be different. The published version of Madagaskar is 157 000 words, the ‘trilogy edition’ 172 000. Whether it will ever see the light of day, I don’t know. Because of the licensing agreements with my publishers I can’t publish it separately, so it may have to wait like some ‘director’s cut’ to be released in the future. Or possibly the extant text will become the one everyone is so familiar with that it will no longer be necessary. We’ll have to see. And first I have to finish the trilogy and write Book 3. Which leads me on to my final blog of this A to Z...

L is also for LOST EYE

[Spoiler alert.] On the subject of Book 3, I should also say a word about Hochburg and his LOST EYE. It is a reference to Norse mythology and Wotan, leader of the Gods. Wotan sacrifices an eye to gain knowledge of the future and in doing so foresees the end of the world. Which may / may not tell you something about where Walter Hochburg is headed...

Saturday 24 December 2016


Apologies for another long break, but I thought I’d sneak in an entry for Christmas. Earlier in this blog I mentioned how I ended up with so much research material it was impossible to include it all. I had literally hundreds of pages of notes; I could have written a non-fiction book. So I thought I’d survey some of the things I toyed with including in The Madagaskar Plan but I JUST COULDN’T FIT IN.

Financing of the Plan

The most fascinating aspect of the Madagascar Plan which I had to omit was its funding. One reason for this was the sheer complexity of it all, but to summarise: the SS planned to finance the Jewish deportation by seizing their assets and investing them in a new intra-European bank overseen by Göring. This bank would pay for the Jews’ transportation costs from Europe to Africa as well as investing in the basic infrastructure needed on the island to cope with such a large influx of numbers. The resettlement would therefore be self-funding with the top Nazis creaming off a levy on all transactions. After the Jews were settled, the bank would take on a new role as the economic intermediary between the island and the rest of the world. Jews would be allowed to run small farms and businesses on the island but not trade directly. Thus ‘Jewish financial contagion’, as the Nazis saw it, would never again threaten the global economy.


Zionism was an ever present difficulty to me as I worked on the book. It would be impossible to write something about the Madagascar Plan, let alone a Jewish uprising on the island, without broaching the subject. Yet every time I looked at Zionism it seemed too big, too unwieldy to fit in. Nevertheless I didn’t want to leave myself vulnerable to accusations of overlooking it or, worse, being ignorant about it. My solution was a compromise. It’s mentioned a few times – with an extended paragraph in Chapter 24 – but in my world it is not significant to the plot or characters.

Plan Z

This was a plan approved by Hitler in 1939 to build a huge surface fleet for the Reich, one that would eventually challenge British naval supremacy. It was intended as a decade long expansion centred on a dozen battleships, four aircraft carriers and various strategic ports around the globe, including Konakry, Walfisch Bucht and Diego Suarez in Africa. The beginning of World War 2 meant it was never properly implemented. Because of the significance of Diego to the plot of The Madagaskar Plan, Plan Z was mentioned in the early drafts of the book but later cut to make things leaner.

One of the Nazis' unbuilt aircraft carriers, in scale to their existing largest ship (with green keel)

 Heydrich’s Jewish heritage

As staggering as this sounds, Heydrich, effectively the Number Two of the SS, had a Jewish (or at least partly Jewish) father. This is not conjecture or gossip but documented fact. It actually appeared in the early drafts of the book and was a minor subplot – but eventually I removed it as I felt it complicated the narrative unnecessarily. I may resurrect it in Book 3.

Globus’s Lariam allergy

In the 1950s, the best defence against malaria was Lariam. Nazis operating in the tropics and other malarial areas (such as parts of southern Russia), routinely took it. In my research on Globocnik I discovered he had taken it and was allergic to it, causing bouts of sickness, depression, paranoia and nightmares. In the first couple of drafts. Globus was forced to take Lariam before visiting the mosquito-hive that is Antzu, leading to an adverse effect on his mental state in the final quarter of the book. In the end, I decided he was already sufficiently unhinged not to need this further complication.

Odin as Santa Claus

Finally, and fittingly for this time of year, in Chapter 4 Hochburg drives through a Stanleystadt still decked for Christmas. I managed to squeeze in the Nazis’ plans for ‘Julfest’ but one detail I didn’t have room for was that they intended to do away with Santa Claus and replace him with Odin, ruler of the Norse gods. He would still have a flowing white beard but his robes would no longer be Coca-Cola red but swastika scarlet. Who knows what they had in mind for Rudolph...


There was one other thing that didn’t make the published edition of the book. It was by far and away the most substantial omission and deserves an entry of its own, which leads me to the final blog of this A to Z. I’ll post it in the New Year: L is for...

Saturday 16 July 2016

U is for URALS

It’s a year to the day since The Madagaskar Plan was published. Have you read it yet?

The URALS are a range of mountains in Russia. If the Nazis had defeated the Soviet Union, the Urals would have become the natural boundary of Germany’s Eastern Empire. Many historians, however, believe a total defeat of the Soviets would have been impossible and that a guerrilla conflict may have continued on the fringes of the new Reich for years. Such a proposition is referred to in other alternate histories such as Fatherland and more recently Dominion. Hitler himself acknowledged the possibility with his infamous quote: ‘People say to me: “Be careful! You will have twenty years of guerrilla warfare on your hands.” I am delighted at the prospect... Germany will remain in a state of perpetual alertness.’

The Urals, looking towards the east

The Afrika Reich began as a more ambitious, five novel sequence. Originally it contained a trilogy set in Nazi Africa featuring Burton and Hochburg, bookended by two standalone novels. The first of these, Seven Bridges to Toledo, was set during the Spanish Civil War and included Patrick, Tünscher and Cranley. You can read more about this project here. The final book in the sequence was called East of the Urals and was set during the collapse of the Nazis’ Eastern Empire. The main character of Urals was Tünscher, returning East on a mission to assassinate a renegade colonel: Standartenführer Kanvinksy, the only SS officer ever to be recalled because his methods were regarded as too extreme – think Kurtz in the mountains. Horrifyingly, he was a real person. Tünscher also had a softer, more personal motive for his journey East, what he describes to Burton as his ‘debts’.

Because I plotted the sequence of five novels well ahead of writing them, much of the Urals story was foreshadowed in Madagaskar. Kanvinsky is even mentioned in Chapter 50. That is why the Urals are such presence in the book, like a gust of icy wind blowing through the narrative. Globocnik would most certainly have served out there too which is why his sections are peppered with references to the East.

For commercial reasons it’s now very unlikely that the Spanish and Urals books will be written. In the original sequence of novels Tünscher was only going to appear in the odd-number books – so we wouldn’t discover the truth about his debts till the fifth book. I have now truncated this – with his debt subtly explained at the end of Madagaskar and the full significance playing out in Book 3.

Beyond the Urals is Birobidzhan. It is never mentioned in the novel (only in the historical note), though Globus and Tünscher occasionally allude to it. Madagascar is where the Nazis planned to deport the Jews of Western Europe; the Jews of Russia were to be exiled to Birobidzhan, in Siberia. If it’s possible, Birobidzhan would have been worse than Madagaskar: monsoons and insufferable heat in the summer, thirty below in the winter.

Birobidzhan is one of the many things I wanted to include in Madagaskar but was unable to because of word length issues. In the final couple of blog entries I’ll discuss others things that didn’t make it into the published book.

U is also for URANIUM MINE

The URANIUM MINE that Hochburg visits in Chapter 7 – Shinkolobwe – is a real place in Congo. The reason I chose it as a location is that it was the source of the uranium used in the two bombs dropped on Japan at the end of WW2. You can read more about the place in this excellent article by Patrick Marnham.

Sunday 3 July 2016

S is for SALOIS

Reuben SALOIS is the main new character in The Madagaskar Plan, and one of the three mentioned on the back cover: ‘Burton... Hochburg... Salois... the fate of the world is in their hands’. I’ve mentioned Salois before – here, in this blog from the first book. He’s another of my recycled names/characters... though his first name gave me months of anxiety. I must have gone through thousands of Jewish male names to find the right one, only settling on Reuben in the final weeks before the book was finished.

From the start it was important I had several Jewish characters in the book. Partly this was to assuage any criticism of writing about the subject matter solely from a Gentile point-of-view, partly so the reader could experience the world I had created at ground level. Salois is one of the first Jews to be shipped to Madagascar, so we see the whole Jewish experience through his eyes – from the journey to the equator, to the work gangs, the first rebellion and beyond.

The character went through various incarnations from the entirely realistic, complete with ‘normal’ backstory, to the more mythic figure he is in the finished book. [Spoiler alert.] Salois is borne from the ancient tradition of heroism. The Greeks believed a hero was someone who performed great deeds; the idea of morality – whether in the deeds themselves or the person doing them – was irrelevant (the link between heroism and doing good arrives in the medieval period and Age of Chivalry). The other big influence on Salois was Harmonica from Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, which leads me to...

I’ve left this entry as one of the last because I want people to have the chance to read the book before turning to this blog. There is a revelation about Salois I must make. Some readers understand it, others don’t. If you’ve read Madagaskar and are happy with your interpretation of Salois, there’s no need to read on. From what people have already reported, he’s one of their favourite characters. But if you want to know my intention, it is this. [Major spoiler alert.] Salois is a phantom; he is not entirely of this world. He is ‘Azrael’, the avenging angel of Jewish mysticism. Of course it is possible to read the character in an entirely naturalistic way, but I wrote him as a man returned from the dead to put right a great wrong. It is the sin of his own life and the sin committed against his race. There are clues to this everywhere in the text.

Two final pieces of trivia. His parting line is based on Prospero’s farewell in The Tempest. We never learn Salois’s actual name. Like Harmonica, and very much in the Leone tradition, he is a man without a name.

Thursday 16 June 2016

Y is for YAUDIN

Sometimes I have ideas that I just can’t get to work. In the early drafts of The Madagaskar Plan I introduced the character of YAUDIN.

The idea for him had been inspired while travelled to Prora. As I reached the Baltic coast I glanced out of my train window and happened to see fishermen on sea-slits. These are literally as they sound: stilts for walking in deep water to fish from). [Spoiler alert.] After Burton crashes the hovercraft in Chapter 33, I had an image of a character approaching him by walking on water; only as he neared the shore did it become apparent he was on stilts. This was Yaudin, a Jew born on Führertag (or in different versions of the text, 30 January 1933) and thus hated by his fellows. He would accompany Burton on his quest and later join Salois travelling to Diego. He was a mix of Caliban and Kaspar Hausar, a kind of jester character whose role in the narrative was constantly to undermine Burton and the Jews of the rebellion, showing the futility of the acts.

He was very much part of the fantastic realism I’m so drawn to in the Afrika books.

I was also incapable of writing him. For a start he spoke in a unique patois which I could never quite nail. I also think – on reflection – there was something too fantastical to him, as though he was a character who had wandered in from a different book.

Kaspar Hauser (top) and Caliban

For months I struggled with him, going through hundreds of subtly different permutations of the character. Every time I failed with his scenes, so I would move on... until there came a moment when I had nothing else to write. I had to deal with him once and for all. Several days of misery followed; he was central to the ending of the plot, so simply exorcising him wasn’t an option. Finally I had a flash of inspiration: an alternative path through the narrative which meant I could cut the character. This flash came about mid-morning and I started working through the possibilities for the rest of the day. The next morning, having slept on it, I woke with a sense of utter relief and knew removing Yaudin was the right decision.

So out went one of my more unusual and original ideas. Perhaps if I hadn’t felt the pressure of the deadline so much I could eventually have found a version of the character that I liked, but reading the book now I think his presence is not missed. In fact, it’s probably beneficial as it means the fantasy/realism elements of the book are better balanced.

Never one to waste a name, however, I gave it to another character... so a Yaudin still appears in the book, albeit in a minor role. [Spoiler alert.] Despite all of the above, you might like to know that the role of both Yaudins is effectively the same in the Diego scenes.

Thursday 2 June 2016

Q is for QUORP

One of the questions I’m regularly asked is whether I base my characters on real people. I always find this rather strange. I’m a novelist, not a biographer. So the answer is no: the majority of my characters are the product of my imagination. I do, however, make the occasional exception – and QUORP, Governor of the Western Sector was one such example.

He’s actually based on a writer of some fame. For libel reasons I won’t name him, or even hint who he is. I confess I’ve never actually met this man but as I was writing the Quorp scenes I read an interview with this writer, complete with an odious photograph – and found him so insufferably smug and unreflective I just had to base Quorp around him.

Quorp's Red Setters

You might also like to know that Burton’s aunt was also modelled on a novelist – this one much more agreeable, though once again I will spare everyone’s blushes and not name her.

I can see how I might be accused of being terribly coy in this entry, but I have dropped a few tiny hints in the text as to who the people are. I’m sure the more astute of you might be able to decipher who I’m referring to... though obviously I will deny everything!

Quorp is also the embodiment of a theme that runs through the book (and links all the characters I despise the most). Excess. If I were drawing up a new list of deadly sins, excess would be at the top. Without wanting to sound too preachy, so long as mankind’s excesses remain unchecked the future will always be bleak. Excess is also a theme in the new novel I’m currently working on (not an Afrika book).

[Spoiler alert.] Hochburg’s threat to Quorp – ‘nice family’ is a quote from The Good, Bad Ugly, a line Christopher Frayling once described as the most menacing in the film.

Q is also for Quince

Many people have commented on the use of quinces in The Afrika Reich, in fact I’ve been asked why Q wasn’t for Quince in the previous A to Z.

Quinces return as a motif in The Madagaskar Plan. Burton owns a quince orchard. Partly this was to give him an unusual job but the symbolism of the fruit was not lost on me either. Through the centuries the significance of quinces has varied from culture to culture. In Ancient Greece they were a symbol of love. In early readings of the Bible, the devil tempts Eve to pick a quince from the Tree of Knowledge (it morphed into an apple during the Middle Ages). Quinces are an amazing, perfumed fruit that turn the most extraordinary pinkish-orange when cooked. Delicious! I have a quince tree in my own garden.

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Germania - revisited

One of the most popular entries from the A to Z of Afrika Reich was the blog on Germania, so I thought I’d return to it with some more pictures, especially given the city actually appears in The Madagaskar Plan. Germania, as I’m sure you know, was the capital Hitler planned to build if he won the war; it would have been overseen by the Führer’s architect, Albert Speer. Here they are admiring a model of the city:

Here is a plan of the intended layout of Germania:

At the centre of this new metropolis was the Great Hall. The first illustration gives you some sense of the scale of the building. Below it are various artists’ impressions of how it would look: 

 Finally, a miscellany of views of Germania:

Wednesday 4 May 2016


Early in the plotting of The Madagaskar Plan it became clear that I would need to include the GOVERNOR OF MADAGASKAR, not only to rule the island but also to thwart Hochburg. Three possibilities are mentioned in the narrative.

My research soon revealed that the Nazis had a candidate in mind as early as the 1930s: Philipp Bouhler, Head of Chancellery in Hitler’s personal office and an old comrade of the Führer’s. However, Bouhler didn’t make for a particularly dramatic character. He was too dry, a bureaucrat, so I decided to project the story beyond his governorship.

I considered a fictitious character but wanting to keep things grounded in reality I started looking at other, real possibilities. One name kept cropping up: Odilo Globocnik. He had run the Lublin Reservation in Poland (a precursor to the Madagascar Plan) and later built the death camps; he seemed a very likely contender.

Globocnik and Bouhler

Yet I was reluctant to use him because of Fatherland (where he is the main villain). It was only after I read a biography of him that I realised his potential. Although Robert Harris depicts the psychopathic qualities of his character well, he omitted lots of the bizarre details. I included many of these in Madagaskar: Globocnik’s two wedding rings, his alcoholism, womanising, horsemanship, love of Austrian folk music. All this is true and made him spring alive for me. So is the fact he never employed women older than twenty-four and that he used to speak to Himmler while lying on the floor, raising alternate legs as he agreed with the Reichsführer. As mentioned in my novel, Globocnik had a real breakdown in 1943.

[Spoiler alert.] In the final chapters of the book a replacement for Globus is mentioned – Herr Bischoff. Again he was a real person and was considered by Heydrich to run the island. Bischoff’s reign would have been different to Bouhler’s and especially Globus’s. He was an accountant and married to a half-Jewish wife. This illustrates well my feelings on alternative history. Often people say to me this or that couldn’t have happened, but how can they be certain? All of the three men above when credible candidates as Governor of Madagaskar. Each would have ruled the island in a very different manner.

Saturday 23 April 2016


When I’m working on scenes I’m always looking for ways to make them more original or unexpected. Initially Burton and Tünscher’s first meeting was set in an anonymous bar in Roscherhafen. After working on it for a while I was happy enough with the dialogue but thought the background should be more interesting. This is where the research kicked in and I decided to move it to the Tiergarten (the zoo). Bizarre as they may seem, the scenes set in Roscherhafen are all based on real places the Nazis intended to build, including an ‘education and entertainment park’ – this a decade before Disney started building in California.

The memory is an odd thing. While writing these scenes I was trying to imagine what it would be like to drink steins of beer and eat sauerkraut beneath boiling skies... then in a flash it came back to me that I have actually experienced this. There used to be a German African theme park in Florida called Busch Gardens. It is long gone, but I went there in the 80s and remembered the bierkeller with the waitresses dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes and the heavy German food in the sweltering Florida climate. I’m positive there was an oompha band.

As well as originality in a scene, it’s also important for me to delay giving away too much of the plot too quickly. As the drafts of Chapter 14 were laid down I realised that the key moment was upon the reader too soon. I needed a device to withhold it that went beyond Burton and Tünscher pausing to order another round of drinks – hence the FERRIS WHEEL. I’m sure you got this as a reference to Graham Greene’s The Third Man.

The Ferris wheel in The Madagaskar Plan is described as ‘the largest in the world’. My US copyeditor picked up on this fact and said that the time it took for a complete revolution – 4 minutes, 41 seconds – was too fast. In her diligence she had checked the timings with similar sized wheels: ‘In Japan, the 115-meter Daikanransha takes 16 minutes to go around; the London Eye (135 m) takes 30 min’. That’s what I call an attention to detail! The reason I settled on 4 minutes, 41 seconds is because that’s how the long the Ferris wheel sequence is in The Third Man. I admit this is an utterly obscure reference.

The other reason I referred to the Graham Greene scene is because it’s about two characters, Holly Martins and Harry Lime, who don’t trust each other. This mirrors the relationship between Burton and Tünscher. Thus far I haven’t said a great deal about the new characters in the book, something I’ll redress in the coming few blogs.