The Fortieth Step Synopsis

A Three Part Crime Thriller

The 40th Step tells the story of a hugely audacious crime – a crime which is intended to destroy the British economy and which can only be thwarted by one man – a man whose wrecked childhood has left him lost, solitary and haunted by nightmares.  And as this man battles the criminals, he discovers that the gang also intend to destroy him in revenge for something his grandfather did to them over 90 years ago.  It’s a story of kidnap, torture, murder, corruption in government and romance set in 21st century England.

Book Synopsis

Inheriting a famous name is never easy.  Are you able to live up to it or will you shame the family reputation?  It’s even worse if you never met your hero of a grandfather, worse still if your father was murdered when you were a child.  John Hannay, the grandson of Sir Richard Hannay, (John Buchan’s The 39 Steps) is 36 and the only member of the Hannay family left alive. He has thrown in his job as a hugely successful City trader and, for the last eighteen months, has withdrawn into a solitary existence in his Mayfair flat harassed by endless, frightening, threatening phone calls. 

The 40th Step starts with a nearly normal morning for John.  He’s woken from nightmares about his childhood to face a day where somebody’s tapping his home phone and sending him a coded warning and somebody else is sending three armed thugs to his flat to obtain ‘the information’.  The trouble is John has no idea what this information is nor how to get it, but he does have his grandfather’s old army revolver.  In five seconds of adrenalin fuelled terror, he blows a hole in the first gunman’s head and runs.  And out in the real world there are people who want to help him – people who knew his murdered parents and even his grandfather.  He just has to hope they can find each other and that he can learn to trust them.  But trust is one thing that John Hannay isn’t good at.

He is helped by Anna Haraldsen, granddaughter of Sir Richard Hannay’s friend Valdemar Haraldsen (John Buchan’s, The Island of Sheep), who has been searching for him on the death bed instructions of her grandfather.  With her two recruits, Harry Livesey, an upper class wastrel and lecher, and Palmer – an Essex boy with a PhD in an arcane branch of pure mathematics and an expertise in electronic surveillance – they find an initial refuge for John in a retail brokerage in the City of London where he meets and is intrigued by its beautiful general manager, Roberta (Robbi) Lord.  

He is tracked down.

With Robbi’s and her ex SAS brother’s help, he runs once more and finally discovers the identity of his nemesis – Dominick Medina – a hugely wealthy City fund manager (and the grandson of Sir Richard Hannay’s adversary in Buchan’s The Three Hostages).  When Medina’s men plant a bomb near John’s flat in Shepherd Market and threaten to detonate it, John allows himself to be captured and taken to Medina’s Mayfair home where he is drugged, starved and tortured for five days.  It is only when he finally breaks that he dredges up from his subconscious what it is that Medina has been after for all these years – a riddle taught to John by his father when he was a four year old child, a riddle that will lead to his grandfather’s secret legacy – a huge cache of gold and diamonds hidden in the 1920s.   

Rescued by Robbi and his new ‘friends’, John then has to work out why Medina needs this money now.  He discovers it is needed for a major crime – an attack on Sterling that would bring the country’s economy to its knees and complete the work Medina’s grandfather had started over eighty years ago when he was stopped by John’s grandfather.  John and his friends break the code, find the cache of gold and use it themselves as collateral in an increasingly dangerous, undeclared war against Medina and his powerful friends.  And throughout this whole desperate process, John knows that he is falling in love with Robbi.  It’s just that his solitary existence has made it almost impossible for him to explain his feelings to her and, unsurprisingly, Robbi finds this less than easy to appreciate.

The story concludes in a three day battle set on the trading floors of the City of London.  Over these days during a G20 meeting of world leaders in London two hedge funds battle for supremacy and the future of the British economy, with John’s health – so badly damaged during his five days of torture by Medina – deteriorating exponentially day by day.

The second and third books of this trilogy, The 40th Step – Revenge and The 40th Step – The Promise have both been completed.