Stephen Timmins has spent a significant portion of his adult life working in television, although colleagues and friends felt that “working” was too strong a word to use and he, himself, declines to call it a career. He has been in his time an ITV Executive Producer, a BBC Producer and, through his Independent Production Company, was jointly responsible for launching the UK’s first national cable channel and then floating a public company that owned an international science channel. For his sins he even produced classic rock videos.
Stephen Timmins’ books are now published by Diamond Books, an independent book publisher. Diamond Books avowed aim is to introduce new crime series and serials to the marketplace.
The first volume of his thriller series, The Fortieth Step, was published by Diamond Books in April 2021.
“The Fortieth Step – Legacy. “Recommended for readers who enjoy swiftly moving thrillers” in a review by Carol Westron on The Mystery People Blog https://promotingcrime.blogspot.com/2021/10/legacy-fortieth-step-by-stephen-timmins.html
“John Hannay is the grandson of Richard Hannay, the legendary hero whose exploits were recounted in The Thirty Nine Steps. Major-General Sir Richard Hannay, KCB, OBE, DSO was a soldier, war hero and spy-catcher, who during his adventurous lifetime, made a personal fortune, many good friends and just as many dangerous enemies. It is the legacy of evil perpetrated by his grandfather’s enemies that has had the greatest impact on John Hannay’s life. After the death of his father, John’s mother died by violence, and John himself was tortured; his experiences at the hands of these ruthless enemies has scarred his life since he was eight.
As the story opens, John has received a series of threatening phone calls, then a different caller warns him to ‘Get Out’. Soon after this, he is attacked in his house but, forewarned, he manages to escape, having killed one of his assailants using his grandfather’s Webley revolver. Traumatised, John goes on the run, bitterly aware that his skills as a restaurateur and market trader have not equipped him to triumph in the sort of adventures in which his grandfather excelled. Fortunately, his grandfather’s legacy of loyal friends helps John to not only survive but also build up his own network of allies, notably the beautiful, intelligent and warm-hearted Robbi, her tough, ex-SAS brother, Dave, and the enigmatic Palmer and several others. With his new team of friends, John survives some vicious attacks and hair-raising adventures as he tries to discover what his enemies intend. As he uncovers an unforeseen threat to his country’s security, John realises that the only way he can hope to avert national disaster is by using his personal skills and strengths, even though it means pushing himself further than he had ever believed he could endure.
Legacy is the first in a trilogy featuring John Hannay and, because it is a serial, it is important to read the books in order. It is a fast-paced and, at times, violent thriller with a physically and emotionally damaged protagonist who has to overcome the scars of his childhood in order to defeat enemies inherited from his family’s history. It is remarkable that, despite his damaged and vulnerable personality, John Hannay is an engaging character whom the reader wishes to succeed. The villains are truly villainous, but many of John’s new allies are interesting and likeable, especially the delightful Robbi. The concept behind Legacy is fascinating as it carries forward the story of Richard Hannay’s descendant into a contemporary setting. Recommended for readers who enjoy swiftly moving thrillers.”
The second volume – The Fortieth Step – Revenge – has also been published and the third – The Fortieth Step – Promise – is due out in Spring 2022
“By chance I stumbled across publisher Diamond Books and having read 39 Steps as a schoolboy I was intrigued by The Fortieth Step – Legacy.
I read the book in a few days – an implausible plot where good is pitched against evil. The action is fast and furious as Mr Timmins pays homage to John Buchan’s books featuring Richard Hannay. A ‘penny dreadful’ in a modern post-Brexit setting featuring grandson John Richard Hannay. A hero who went to Eton, lost his parents at an early age and suffered unimaginable abuse. A wanderer who struggles with relationships. A zany, varied array of characters with some being hilarious stereotypes. I adored Robbi, ex-SAS hard man Dave, City trader Em, despicable ffitch and an almost pantomime villain.
Definite shades of Raymond Chandler with wisecracking Phillip Marlow. Another character straight out of Len Deighton films. One particularly dramatic scene reminds me of Jack Reacher (Lee Child).
This is a page-turning adventure that fizzes from start to finish. It is well written by an author who keeps the pace and suspense throughout. Plenty to look up in a dictionary or Wikipedia – Fibonacci Curve, Feydeau farce, nerfertiti, incunabula, omerta, Caesar’s code and Kerkhoff’s principle are just a few…. There are references to Johnny Cash, Shakespeare and Byron ending the story.”
The photos above show how badly life in the media has aged him. He is now based in a small village in North Somerset near to the city of Bristol. Here he spends much of his time writing – thrillers, crime novels, sagas and TV and film scripts.
Also to be published in 2022 is the first book in the historical Stanwood House series.
This trilogy follows lives from the end of the nineteenth century, through the devastation and social upheaval of 1914-18 and on to its tragic aftermath, the Second World War. It is neither a Downton Abbey reprise nor an Upstairs Downstairs chronicle. At the core of the story is the murderous impact of a disputed inheritance on the lives of a young aristocrat, Flora Smythe, and that of a villager, the ploughman, Will Cobley.
These three novels are based in a fictionalised version of the village where Stephen Timmins’ grandparents lived. One of the two central characters, Will Cobley, is named after his grandfather, born 1896, died 1984. Stephen says “I don’t think he would ever have considered himself a hero, but he ran away to war from his father’s farm in Northamptonshire and was there on the first day of the battle of the Somme. He was invalided home in 1917 with toes missing from trench foot (the polite term for gangrene) and never spoke of the war again.” It was the memory of his grandfather and his research into the pioneering work of Dr Harold Gillies that led to this trilogy.
Gillies, his surgeon colleagues and his nursing staff, developed the world’s first plastic surgery unit in an attempt to repair the shattered faces of the front line troops whose cheeks and jaws were punctured and destroyed by German snipers and shrapnel in the trench warfare of France and Belgium. At a time when unprecedented amounts of money were spent in developing weapons of huge destructive power, Gillies said simply that: “I felt a tremendous urge to do something other than the surgery of destruction”.
Volume One ~ Flora’s War
Volume Two ~ Kit’s War
Volume Three ~ Flora’s Peace