First Monday Crime: The Beijing Conspiracy by Shamini Flint

It’s almost time for First Monday Christmas, our fun festive crimey celebration! And we have a terrific line-up: Tarquin Hall, Shamini Flint, Simon Brett and Sam Blake will be joining us to discuss their terrific new crime and thrillers. Not only that, but the super duper Angela Clarke and Claire McGowan will be going head to head to establish once and for all, who is the Queen of Crime!

And I’m spotlighting The Beijing Conspiracy by Shamini Flint, a gripping international thriller following power struggles in both China and the United States.

The Beijing Conspiracy opens with an image familiar to all of us: a lone man, carrying bags of shopping, standing in front of a column of tanks in a display of non-violent resistance, and whose fate remains unknown. 

Years later, Delta Force veteran Jack Ford is startled to receive a letter from a former lover Xia, who was a student leader at the height of the protests in China, where he cut his teeth as a spook. She claims that they have a daughter Fei Yen, and that she needs his help. After everything that happened between them, Jack has no idea if he can trust her, but he can’t ignore a woman who might be his daughter.

Meanwhile, an almighty power struggle is taking place in China. Zhu Juntao is the newly appointed Secretary General of the Communist Party, and is determined to modernise his country. He plans to do so by finding the mysterious Tank Man, presumed to have been given sanctuary by American spies, and rehabilitating him as a hero. But amongst the Politburo, as predicted, he faces resistance, led by General Zhang, who also commands the People’s Liberation Army. Zhang too likes the idea of finding Tank Man – but for very different reasons. Through blackmail and threats, he is building a strong resistance that could bring down Juntao before he even takes the Presidency – and the deck seems fully stacked in his favour.

But, there is another mysterious spy, code named EMPEROR, who has risked everything to smuggle a memo revealing the situation to the US.

BUT, Juntao also faces perhaps surprising opposition from the United States of America. With the buffoonish President taking little to no interest in foreign affairs, but terrified of looking weak, it falls to his hawkish defence team to monitor the situation. And a modernised China doesn’t suit them at all.

With the scene set, The Beijing Conspiracy leaps quickly into action by the second chapter. Seeking more information about his possible daughter, Jack enlists the help of an old spook buddy Peter Kennedy in Singapore to look into Xia before he flies to Beijing. Their reunion is brief – Kennedy is immediately gunned down by Chinese agents – and entrusts the very memo smuggled out by EMPEROR to Jack. Who promptly flies back to Beijing with it. Massive global conspiracy be damned, he has a daughter to find. But he will find that he is directly relevant to Zhang’s plans – because of the events of

If all the double crossing and various conspiracies sound confusing, don’t be put off – it all falls neatly into place for the reader, and launches into a terrifically gripping action thriller. The political conniving is realistically written – and seems terrifyingly plausible, even if I did find it to be a stretch that Mike Pence has at this point died of shame, and Hillary Clinton/Elizabeth Warren has been appointed Veep.

The story crescendos neatly to a breath-taking, edge of your seat climax, with spies revealed, disloyalty unearthed – and yet with a touching father-daughter story at its heart.

Sound good? Come along on Monday 2nd December to meet Shamini and the rest of the panel, and enjoy an evening of criminally festive entertainment!

Literary Events at Dulwich Books and The Bedford, Balham

Dulwich Books recently announced its biggest ever LIVE EVENTS PROGRAMME FOR 2016 and boy is it a brilliant line-up.Master Logo Square 2

Launching in January, with venues at both Dulwich Books in West Dulwich and the legendary The Bedford in Balham, events will feature both renowned writers and debut novelists including Fiona Barton, author of The Widow (2016’s The Girl on The Train?) and award-winning novelists Kate Mosse and Helen Dunmore.

DEADLY IN DULWICH with Fiona Barton and Ann Morgan
21st January, 7pm. Tickets are £10 and include a mystery cocktail

The Widow HB.jpg

Fiona Barton and Ann Morgan, two of the most exciting names in contemporary page-turning fiction, are the stars of the inaugural Dulwich Books crime and thriller event series, Deadly in Dulwich.


Fiona’s debut novel The Widow will be published on the 14th January and is already tipped to become next year’s The Girl On The Train. Ann Morgan, famous for her previous book Reading The World, in which she recorded her attempt to read one book from every country in the world, has written her first psychological thriller Beside Myself, a tense story about the fragility of identity.

Think Sophie and I are both going to head down to this one! Can’t wait.

Award-winning novelist Helen Dunmore launches her new spy novel, Exposure
28th January, 7pm. Tickets are £10 and include a glass of Prosecco

Exposure Helen Dunmore.jpgBritish poet, novelist and children’s writer, Helen Dunmore joins Dulwich Books for the evening to celebrate the launch of her latest novel Exposure, a spy thriller set during the Cold War. Having won the Orange Prize for Fiction with her novel A Spell of Winter, her new book is a remarkable story of forbidden love, intimate betrayal and the devastating power of exposure drive. 

In conversation with Susie Nicklin, Helen will discuss her incredibly powerful book before welcoming guests to ask questions and celebrate its publication with Prosecco.

NEW VOICES with Monica Wood and Jem Lester
4th February, 7pm. Tickets are £10 and include a glass of wine and a proof copy of Monica’s novel The One-in-a-Million Boy.

high res-2.jpegMonica Wood, already an award-winning author in the US, will present her debut UK novel The One in a Million Boy, a heart-wrenching book due for publication in April. A story of an unlikely friendship between a mentally sharp, determinedly independent woman of 104 and a world-records-obsessed eleven-year-old boy, this UK debut is insightful, inventive and full of surprises. Book Jacket.jpg

Jem Lester’s debut novel Shtum is a funny, engaging and beautiful novel about a young boy called Jonah who suffers from autism and has never
spoken. Set in North London, his single father, Ben, must learn to cope with the challenge of having a child who keeps shtum, a book perfect for fans of David Nicholls, The Shock of the Fall and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

January – March Event Highlights at The Bedford
The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9HD

Dulwich Books also announced a new series of events taking place at legendary live music and comedy venue The Bedford in Balham.bedford.jpg

Originally a hotel developed in the 1830’s, The Bedford is still the central community hub of Balham. In the late sixties and seventies it was a spit and sawdust live music venue serving as a springboard for early gigs by acts including The Clash and U2 and now, it will host some of the most fantastic literary talent of the modern day as part of Dulwich Books. 

I CALL MYSELF A FEMINIST with Kate & Martha Mosse, Meltem Avcil, Amy Annette, Caroline Kent, Hajar Wright and others.
14th January, 7pm. Tickets are £6 entry only, or £10 with a paperback copy of I Call Myself a Feminist included

9780349006550.jpgIs feminism still a dirty word? I Call Myself A Feminist brings together twenty-five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women, to ask what it means to be a feminist in 2015. For this special one-off evening, the launch of Dulwich Books’ 2016 events programme in its new location, Kate & Martha Mosse will be speaking as mother and daughter about intergenerational feminism alongside Meltem Avcil, Amy Annette, Caroline Kent, Hajar Wright, and others.

With readings, discussions, and opportunities for audiences to participate, all interspersed with breaks to visit the bar, there’ll also be an after-party with music and dancing.

Love the sound of this event – Sophie will be heading down so make sure you say hi!

GROWING UP COMMUNIST with David Aaronovitch and Jo McMillan
11th February, 7.30pm. Tickets are £6, which is fully redeemable against a purchase of either Party Animals or Motherland

9780224074711-2.jpegJoin David Aaronovitch and Jo McMillan to discuss an upbringing on the fringes of political life. Tracing the decline of the communist tradition in Britain, Party Animals is a deeply personal account of what it’s like to grow up in a family on the far-left. Written by David Aaronovitch, a well-known journalist and commentator, it is a memoir that stands out from the crowd.

Jo McMillan’s debut novel Motherland, Motherland hb cover-2.jpegpublished in hardback last year, is an incredible story of a childhood in struggle. In this case the struggle is that of thirteen-year-old Jessica, whose mother Eleanor is unerring in her attempts to radicalise the sleepy midlands town of Tamworth. Unfortunately for Jessica, those attempts are mostly met with indifference and hostility. But a visit to the Democratic Republic of Germany beckons…

DISPLACEMENTS with Ben Rawlence
10th March, 7.30pm. Tickets are £6 and are fully redeemable against a purchase of City of Thorns

51lP25F5STL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOver the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land. To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Among those seeking sanctuary there are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education. In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there.

Ben will share his stories of life in the camp, explaining why he wrote the book and what he thinks can be done to improve the lives of refugees around the world.

You can buy tickets for events at both locations online at, by email at,
on the phone on 020 8670 1920 or in Dulwich Bookshop