When asked how the plot for Hostage to Fortune came about Carolyn McCrae explained:

“I was ‘between books’ in February 2017 when husband Colin and I went on holiday to Spain – Second Strand had been published and the main push of marketing was over. I had in mind that Skye and Fergal Shepherd ‘historical investigators’ should have another adventure (not a ‘sequel’ - more another story with some of the same characters) but I had no idea what that adventure might be.”

“The paper in the imaginary typewriter was blank?”

“A blank Word screen, yes! But not for long. As we drove around the Mediterranean coast between Alicante and Gibraltar, visiting Cartagena, La Herradura, Almeria, Estepona and Almuñecar, I began to think about the events of that country’s Civil War. It revived an interest I had had when I lived in Spain in the late 1960s, when it was clear that memories of that war, then less than thirty years in the past, were still very raw. I thought Skye and Fergal would be interested too.”

“So it’s about the Spanish Civil War?

“Not exactly, though Skye and Fergal have to learn about the events of that time to solve the mysteries they have been set to investigate.”

“Mysteries? Plural?”

“As in Second Strand, set to solve one mystery they get diverted into others. This time, asked to find a missing woman, they involve themselves in looking into an assassination and at least two murders.

“A complex plot then?”

“Certainly intricate and certainly (I hope) not formulaic but not unduly complicated, though I didn’t have a complete say in how the plot developed.”

“Other people were involved?”

By the time Colin and I returned home (we were living in Dartmouth, Devon at that time) the plot was almost formed and after three days I had mapped out what I thought would be the chapters. As ever, though, as I wrote the protagonists themselves began to have a say in how their stories developed and so it was they: Arjun, Ryan, Pat and Diane, Jenna and Wave, but most especially Guy, who really led the development of the plot.”

What’s it about?

Skye and Fergal are asked to investigate the disappearance of Diane Hammill, a keeper of a safe house in Dartmouth (she appeared in Second Strand). Within a few days they believe they have located her but, against direct instructions from Gordon Hamilton (Her Parents’ Daughter and Second Strand), they involve themselves in two other, seemingly unconnected, events that occur in the same town within days of her disappearance: the assassination of prominent politician, Warwick Eden, and the apparent suicide of Ryan O’Donnell, a crew-member on Eden’s luxury yacht.

What they learn of four generations of the Eden family leads them to Southern Spain, to the horrific events of 1936 and that country’s Civil War and it is there that they find the solution to the mystery Gordon had intended them to investigate all along. Not Diane’s disappearance, not the assassination, nor the subsequent murders, but something altogether more interesting.

Published by Troubador January 2018
ISBN: 978-1788037853 (PB)
ISBN: 978-1788033770 (e-Book)

What makes a perfectly normal boy turn into a psychopathic killer? Hostage to Fortune follows the progress of Guy Cliffe from the moment he learns the true identity of his father, through his growing awareness of the unfairness of life, to his understanding and embracing of what he has to do to achieve the life he truly believes should be his. Carolyn McCrae’s latest is a tightly plotted mystery that will appeal to lovers of thrillers that are just that little bit different.

Jane M, Cabo Roig, Spain

Hostage to Fortune is a delightfully easy read. It follows the well-worn path of using a couple of clever amateurs to explain a situation that has been puzzling the professionals, in this case security officers in the Home office, for many a long year. Our amateurs, Skye and Fergal Shepherd, are a young and highly competitive couple. They have been married for just over a year and neither is yet keen to admit who is top dog.
This is the second time the youngsters have been employed by the Home Office. Once again the situation they are asked to investigate - the disappearance of Diane Hammill, the keeper of a safe house in Dartmouth, Devon - is related to, but is by no means the precise conundrum that needs solving.
Right from the start it is obvious that with all the resources available to them the security services and the police must know the answers to the various crimes such as: the murder of Warwick Eden, a rich far-right politician; the suicide/murder of young man whose father has been wrongly accused of, and then imprisoned for injuring a policeman by Warwick’s elder brother Barford; a gay man who is killed when sailing with Warwick’s nephew, etc that are dangled in front of our young heroes. But do they receive any help? Oh no.
After they had worked out the intricate connections between the above crimes and have decided who has killed whom, Fergal and Skye are still not satisfied that they have solved the elusive riddle that they have been set. Against specific instructions to the contrary they travel to Spain where much, but not all, is explained. Indeed, Skye and Fergal succeed in revealing the answer to the real question the Home Office wanted answering without either them or us even realizing that they had done so. It is only right at the end of the book that we, along with the amateur youngsters learn why they were sent off to wade through a veritable labyrinth of crime that had its roots in the history of the Spanish civil war. It is neither a question nor an answer that you would guess, so if you want to know what it is you will have to read the book.
There are many strands in this book. The interlinking stories of the main characters are told separately before they gradually coalesce into a comprehensive whole. Skye and Fergal are an entertaining couple whose natural tendency towards insubordination is more than fully manipulated by Gordon Hamilton, their devious controller at the Home Office.

Angela Crowther,

An excellent book which kept me intrigued until the end. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Rachel C, Essex