Related to: 'The Untouchable'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

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Harry's Game

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In Honour Bound

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A Line in the Sand

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In a village on the Suffolk coast, Frank Perry waits for his past to arrive. A decade before he spied for the Government on the Iranian chemical and biological weapon installations. His information damaged their killing capacity for years.Now, Iran will have its revenge and has despatched their most deadly assassin to fulfil the task. Codenamed the Anvil, he will move with stealth towards his chosen objective unless Perry's protectors can reach him first.As he draws nearer, the ring of steel around Perry grows tighter. But against a faceless adversary, and with the job fatally compromised by the stifling political bureaucracy surrounding it, there seems little chance that the past will not have its day once more...

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The Glory Boys

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THE TARGET: Israel's leading nuclear scientist, giving a lecture in London. THE ASSASSIN: A Palestinian terrorist, the lone survivor of a three-man hit squad ambushed by Israeli Intelligence in France while on their way to London. THE MERCENARY: Ciaran McCoy, formerly of the IRA, and The Assassin's only contact in London. THE MAVERICK: Jimmy, an alcoholic, over-the-hill MI5 agent assigned to protect the Israeli scientist. Jimmy is arguably the most dangerous of the lot, but only when sober. Will he be able to prevent a brutal killing?

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The Contract

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Discharged from the British Army in disgrace, Johnny Donoghue is eager to redeem himself. His task is to slip undercover into East Germany and persuade a prominent scientist working on Soviet missile systems to defect.But no one warns Johnny of the dangers involved in crossing the border, nor can he ever imagine the effect the actions of fickle politicians will have on his task. Nothing can prepare Johnny for the impact of the momentous decision the scientist will be forced to make, and no one could have predicted the involvement of the scientist's headstrong daughter . . .

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Mattie Furniss has run British Intelligence agents in Iran from his desk in London for two decades. But when he is ordered to the country himself, it is clear that times are desperate. One of Furniss' key informants and close friends is Charlie Eshraq, a young Iranian whose family was murdered during the revolution. Charlie is determined to avenge their deaths and becomes involved in drug smuggling to fund his campaign. When the daughter of a prominent MP dies from a heroin overdose and the British establishment demands a crackdown on Iranian drug traffickers, Mattie and Charlie suddenly find themselves alone in the spider's web. In a hostile environment where their every move is watched, will they be able to escape alive?

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Beautiful, seductive and extremely dangerous, Franca Tantardini is one of Italy's most ruthless political extremists. When she is captured in a shoot-out, her fanatical young lover, Giancarlo Battestini, vows to set her free and, with quiet watchfulness, waits for the moment to strike.In Rome, a British businessman, Geoffery Harrison, has been taken hostage by a ruthless organised crime syndicate - kidnap is, after all, a growth industry. The British Government are adamant that they will not pay the two-million-dollar ransom and discharge responsibility to the Italian police. As political wrangling takes hold, Battestini sees a weakness and realises that the only way to secure the release of his beloved Franca is to capture Harrison and bargain his life for hers.The authorities are confronted with a terrible choice. Should they release a woman who has masterminded the murder of so many or let an innocent man die?

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The Heart of Danger

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A mass grave is uncovered in a devastated Croatian village, and the mutilated body of a young Englishwoman, Dorrie Mowat, is exhumed.Her mother, who detested Dorrie when she was alive, is determined to find out how her daughter died. But with civil war tearing apart the former Yugoslavia, none of the authorities are interested in what they view as a minor war crime. She employs private investigator, Bill Penn, a former MI5 officer, who anticipated a short trip to Zagreb where he will compile a meaningless report and receive a good fee at the end of it. But once he has seen the killing ground, Penn becomes determined to find the truth behind the young woman's death.As Penn searches for evidence of war crimes, he finds himself pitted against a ruthless opponent who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks...

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Kingfisher

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A group of four students, Ukrainian Jews, are fighting for recognition within the Soviet Union. They are tired of being treated as second-class citizens and are prepared to use violence if necessary. When one of their number is captured after shooting a policeman, they know time is running out. Their only hope is to hijack a plane, fly to the West and then on to Israel.One country after another refuses to let them land, untill the plane finally sets down in Britain, low on fuel. Charlie Webster, an Intelligence officer on the Soviet desk, is brought in to negotiate with the hijackers. But it is unclear whether they are political refugees or dangerous criminals. As the government wavers, the students become increasingly desperate and start to lose patience, and control.

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A Song in the Morning

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Jeez Curwen, a British undercover agent in South Africa reporting on the African National Congress, has received the death penalty for his part in a job in which he should never have been involved. He is incarcerated in the maximum security jail outside Pretoria, awaiting execution.By the time his son Jack, abandoned by Jeez 25 years ago, discovers that the British government has washed its hands of his father's case, Jeez has only three weeks to live.But Jack, though young and untried, is determined to see the father he has never known, and to set him free.

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In the villages and on the mountains of County Tyrone, in the heartland of the Provisional IRA's most active Brigade, the golden rule is 'Hear nothing, see nothing, know nothing'. To collaborate with British Intelligence is to invite an inescapable death sentence.But there is word on the mountain that inside the Brigade there is a 'tout', an informer. He will be identified, interrogated, tortured, then hooded and shot.Gary Brennard, the MI5 field agent, and Parker, who runs the informer, have to protect their man at all costs: he is the critical asset to hold on to until the stakes are high enough... and if the innocent step into the crossfire, that's just bad luck.

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Killing Ground

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A young English schoolteacher, Charlotte Parsons, is invited to resume her job as nanny to the children of a well-to-do Sicilian family. But this time Charley is the centre figure in a desperate plot by the US Drug Enforcement Agency to trap Mario Ruggerio, would-be head of the Sicilian Mafia, the man who masterminds a multi-billion dollar international drugs trade. Charley is to be the bait in the trap and, in deciding to return to the Ruggerio family in Palermo, is about to enter the killing ground...

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Holding The Zero

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Condition Black

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Thrown out of the SAS for insubordination, Gord Brown spends his dreary, uneventful days on a remote salmon farm in Scotland. Everything changes when he is approached by three Guatemalan Indians, who are desperately searching for a fighting man, someone to mastermind an uprising against the brutal military dictatorship who have massacred so many of their people. Suddenly his life has a purpose once again.The four men land in Cuba and fly across into the jungles of Guatemala, where they rapidly assemble a guerilla army. But as they approach the capital city, the goverment becomes increasingly threatened by their presence and is determined to annihilate them at all costs...

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The Waiting Time

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