(Red Door Publishing)
Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world, enshrining him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms a friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. The ghost discovers the shocking truth of who really holds the power and wealth in the world.
As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives, the ghost is also struggling to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear.
Secrets of the Italian Gardener takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.
Andrew Crofts has spent much of his ghostwriting career amongst the dictators, politicians, arms dealers and billionaires who hold the reins of power and control the wealth of the world, stationed in their lavish palaces and heavily guarded compounds in the wildest parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as in tax havens like Monaco, Geneva, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Blog Tour Reviews
“Such a clever and disturbing book …terrible sense of unease …makes the reader question every underlying principle in their life …I finished feeling completely disturbed … shocked and not a little naïve … totally mesmerising.” – Lindasbookbag.com
“WOW. Left me reeling by the end …a beautifully crafted and clever story full of depth and intrigue …pacy and becomes surprisingly sinister … I loved the tense, uneasy feeling … Andrew Crofts is a genius story teller … an incredibly thought provoking story… YOU NEED TO READ IT!!!” – Ifindoubtread.wordpress.com.
“Unexpected shocking events had me wide awake for hours after …the journey it took me on was one I won’t forget.” – Lovebooksgroup.blog
“Full of power and threat …Crofts’ magical storytelling ability.” – Harrysbookclub.wordpress.com
“Totally Absorbing … fascinating, interesting and compelling.” – Shortbookandscribes.uk
“An absorbing, well crafted novella.” – Basfordwrites.com
“Very moving and thought provoking …I feel like I’ve just read a true story … you are left gripped …a very emotive story that tugs at your heart and your own belief in humanity.” – Kraftireader
“Deeply insightful, often disturbing … that would leave me uneasy and uncomfortable throughout … extremely clever and well-written … a dark sense of foreboding and shadow … which really left me edgy and alert at all times … the story bursts from the pages and really grips you … unique and well worth reading.” – Booksofallkinds
Wow! … what a kick ass, heart pounding novella … Andrew really does pack a punch … twists, turns and tragedy and I was hanging on the edge of my seat.” – hayley10reviews
“A very powerful novel, and one that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading – probably my favourite piece of literary fiction I’ve read this year. A powerful and thought provoking book.” – Thebibliophilechronicles
“Not like anything I had ever read before and definitely took me out of my comfort zone … but I loved it … so many moments of unease with twists and turns throughout … I still have this sense of unease and shock …shocking, unexpected and enthralling. 145 pages of pure excitement. – Onedaydreamaway
Reviews on Amazon.
“This is not a long book, but it is a classic piece of well-written, thoughtful and worthwhile fiction. Despite the lightness of touch some very serious issues are touched upon, and dealt with in a satisfying way. This is the sort of book that people who read a lot of books are happy to recommend. “
“… it has really left a deep and thoughtful impact. Andrew Crofts’ story is a beautiful look at what it is like having to view the world changing around you, both personally and globally, and having no real way to affect the outcomes in it. The characters are complex, the imagery of scenes vivid and beautiful, and it allows us to explore the ideas of who ,or what, is considered wrong and right. Will the choices of our past and present really represent how we are viewed in the future? Or can the carefully crafted words of a witness to a key moment in history change the outlook for the entire world? I feel my review may not accurately capture the jewel that this small story is, and I encourage anyone to read it and discover what the secrets are, both in the gardens and in your own life.”
“A philosophical yet unnerving look at power, tyranny and fear through the eyes of a ghostwriter and a worldly gardener who turns out to be anything but the man he appears.”
“Delightfully unexpected, this novella is an excellent read.”
“Robert Harris meets Paulo Coelho in a thoughtful, intelligent story”
“The story is quite fascinating and the thoughtful nature of the prose allows remarkable insight into the greed and corruption which lies at the heart of a fraudulent regime.”
“Coelho with cojones …”
“Secrets of the Italian Gardener is an original, well written story, and a thoroughly good read.”
“A fast-paced political thriller.”
“Packed with drama and political intrigue, the story draws you in from the first page.”
“…the characters are so carefully created and multi-layered, and the storyline so involving that we are led into contemplating the banality of evil and the complexity of the human psyche almost without realizing it. … Can Andrew Crofts write fiction? Yes he can.”
– Vulpes Libris
“Write about what you know – good advice, which Andrew Crofts has wisely followed in this novella, whose narrator is, like the author, a leading ghostwriter ….A short book that manages to combine a story of personal tragedy with an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of dictatorial power.”
– Mail Online. Literary Fiction
“This fast-paced narrative will have you gripped from start to finish.”
– The Lady
“Robert Harris meets Paulo Coelho in a thoughtful, intelligent story”
“A contemporary re-casting of Ecclesiastes, this story is about the vanity associated with the desire for power and possessions and ultimately about the cycle of birth, growth, death and re-birth”
– Robert Kirby, United Agents
“One of the most compelling, intelligent and emotional books I have read in a long time …. It speaks volumes of the world we live in today and I can’t remember ever being this excited about a work”
By Andrew Crofts
When a girl called Doris informs ghostwriter, Joe Tye, that someone has “stolen her beautiful new breasts” and asks for his help, he is plunged into the dark and dangerous worlds of people-trafficking and modern slavery.
At the same time as dealing with the amorous advances of the sixteen year-old daughter of a gangster, who also happens to be his client, and navigating his way through drug dens and backstreet clinics from Brighton to Manila, Joe is trying to be a responsible, newly-divorced father to a young son who constantly does the unexpected – and then things turn really ugly.
At the heart of everything sits Maisie, and her network of “Amazing Maids” – all called Doris and all having their breasts stolen. But behind Maisie lie much more powerful and sinister forces. People for whom other people’s lives are entirely expendable. People who do not want Joe telling stories
By Andrew Crofts
Fifteen year-old Maggie arrives in London on the run from her humdrum suburban life, determined to make it big in show business.
For more than thirty years she is exploited by both men and the media. She struggles against endless set-backs and disappointments, always remaining optimistic, always believing that this time her big break has come. Then, when most of us would have given up all hope, the celebrity circus rockets her to bizarre and unexpected pinnacles of fame.
Starting in 1970 Maggie de Beer’s journey mirrors the rise of celebrity culture and the growth of the media which ruthlessly created it, exploiting and destroying the lives of girls like Maggie who willingly offered themselves up, happy to make any amount of personal sacrifices in exchange for a chance to live the dream. She is determined to make herself “interesting” and only when she finally achieves her goal, at enormous personal cost, does she discover, under the full glare of the media spotlight, that the family she was running away from was never as humdrum as she had believed.
“This, I thought as the chauffeured car slid me back from Park Lane to Earls Court behind darkened windows, is what life must have been like for party girls like Christine Keeler in the sixties. I had found my Xanadu, the place where I was meant to be …”
It’s an amazing story about an incredible woman, and has a very moving ending.
The brilliance in this `show and tell all’ story is the character of Maggie, a strong and, in her way, courageous woman. She talks about `paying her dues’ in the business, working for years in various aspects of show business waiting for her big break. She capitalises on her sex appeal and has stints as a Benny Hill girl – for those of you who are too young to know who Benny Hill is, he was a comedian whose show featured a lot of buxom young woman showing a lot of skin – and roles in revues and pantomimes. When show biz is slow, she pays the rent by being an escort, one perfectly willing to provide extras.
Maggie’s story is of the seedier aspects of show business and she gives up a lot to keep the dream alive. Sometimes, I thought she was in the unfortunate position of the untalented thinking herself talented, but I always admired her single minded pursuit of her goals. She was one of the many in show business who just missed out on the better opportunities – like authors who almost get published – and had to take the lesser work or give up. But she didn’t give up as most in her situation do. Even as she grew older, she kept her faith that one day her time would come. As a reader, I wasn’t so sure, but I also realised that however it ended for Maggie this was still going to be a great story.
The end blew my mind because, not only was it totally unexpected, it was about much more than making it or not making it in show business. It was about an older woman discovering her place in the world, the real reasons for her family’s reclusive nature, and what is really important in life. This really is a `must read’. I give it 5 stars and a place in the Awesome Indies listing.
Five Star Amazon Review
I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this read to anyone, whatever your reading habits: From the really gritty writing to the clever twists and turns, and the believable characteristation and highly entertaining wit. I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t enjoy a trip to the inner world of Maggie de Beer.
And by the end, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye and was even hoping there might be a follow up …
Words with Jam
The story of a girl who becomes a soap star and national treasure overnight, only to discover from media revelations that nothing about her family life is as she imagined.
Beautifully written, well paced and a real page turner’ sums this book up in cliches, but there is much more to say about it. Although the subject matter is very different, this book is as much a tale of our time as ‘A Kind of Loving’ is of the late 1950s. And in telling it in the first person, Crofts keeps you as close and as sympathetic to Steffi as Barstow does with Vic Brown. All the other characters are truly believable and the twists in the plot entirely credible. Crofts doesn’t mince his language, but the swearing is carefully placed and right in character. Don’t let the girly-pink cover put you off – this is a punchy story that will appeal to men and women alike.
Five Star Amazon Review
First episode of Steffi television drama here
|It is an astonishing story which will amaze its readers|
– Michael Tinniswood, Liverpool Echo
by Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy, Joanna Trollope, Susan Howatch et al
Written by a dozen literary stars in aid of the Dyslexia Institute. Each author wrote one chapter of a story set on P&O’s liner, Oriana, and my task was to edit them into a smooth-flowing story.
|Jumps straight into the top ranks of contemporary thriller writers – a highly unusual thriller and a marvelous read|