Candy Jar Books ihas announced the final book in its penultimate series of Lethbridge-Stewart novels:
Written by Chris Thomas
Cover art by Paul Cooke
People go missing every day. It’s an unfortunate part of life, and tragic for the families involved. But when bodies of the missing start turning up, as if ripped apart by wild animals, the Fifth Operational Corps is called in to investigate.
Sergeant Major Samson Ware and Captain Bill Bishop head to Newcastle, after a spike in the missing persons’ reports, and form an alliance with young photographer Gary Merrin in an effort to uncover the truth.
Meanwhile, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne Travers try to find the recently returned Professor Ted Travers, who himself seems to have disappeared. Their investigations lead them to a World War II veteran, who is a shadow of his former self.
How are the disappearances linked to an experiment from the past? And just what is the connection with the missing Professor Travers?
Blue Blood is the first Lethbridge-Stewart novel by Chris Thomas, who previously wrote Vampires of the Night for The HAVOC Files 2: Special Edition. Born in Perth, Western Australia, Chris is a writer, actor, journalist and broadcaster. His writing includes the novel Journo's Diary for defunct publisher Metropolis Ink, the Doctor Who short story One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (published in Short Trips: Defining Patterns), the plays Which One?, Reality Matters, and Appetite for Destruction.
Range Editor Andy Frankham-Allen said:
I enjoyed Chris’ short story at the time, and was amused to find he originally ended it in the ‘present’, setting up a sequel. A common thing among new authors – trying to set up some future work for themselves. I remember removing that end scene and telling Chris that if we’re gonna do a sequel, let’s do one properly instead of simply setting it up. Also, by removing the set-up in the short story, we leave things open for new ideas to develop in the meantime.
After Candy Jar Books released my short story in late 2019, Andy got in touch when he was mapping out the latest Lethbridge-Stewart series and asked if I would like to submit a pitch for one of the stories. Vampires of the Night featured Professor Travers and was set during World War II, and I originally had a short scene thirty-odd years later with Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne, discovering something that hadn’t been quite resolved at the end of the story. The scene got cut but, about six hours after I got the initial email from Andy about the novel pitch, I think we had both reached the same conclusion – he followed up, asking if I wanted to do the sequel I had previously hinted at.
As the final book in the penultimate series, this book serves a bit as a preamble to the final days of the Fifth Operational Corps. Chris continued:
Given the United Nations is a global organisation, I wanted to create a problem that had its focus in the UK but was also happening around the world. Being an Aussie, I did throw in a couple of things from Down Under, but the core of the story is set in England’s north, so the focus remains on the Lethbridge-Stewart characters with sojourns to other countries to show similar things happening elsewhere.
It’s all about laying the foundations for the end of the series, as the band finally starts to break up (in a very dramatic sense), which the final series will build upon as things on the international stage start to become even more precarious. But Blue Blood does much more than that; it tells an exciting story, a bit of a mystery, introducing some fun new characters to the LSverse and, eagle-eyed observers will notice, a nice link back to a popular Doctor Who story from 1989.”
The cover is by postman and popular part-time artist Paul Cooke, back for his fourth Lethbridge-Stewart novel cover:
When I got the brief, I decided to produce an atmospheric piece, but one that was still vibrant and colourful. I went for bright sidelights and a sunset rather than night sky, and pushing the colour on the radio telescope in a non-realist but striking way (I hope!).
It was really important to me to get Samson right on this cover. I really like his character and I wanted to create a good portrait. One of the things Candy Jar have been really successful with is introducing strong (I hate this term) minority characters but treating them in a realistic period-way without denigrating them or making them in any way ‘token’. I hope I’ve done Samson justice.
It was fun creating the other characters, too. The female character had to be fairly scary without being too gory and not falling into the titillation trap with the tears in the dress. Merrin had to look alarmed without becoming a caricature, so I hope I struck the right balance. An enjoyable commission and I’m really looking forward to the book.
The book is available to pre-order from Candy Jar Books, and is part of the Season 8 six book bundle for subcribers.
The final series of Lethbridge-Stewart will be split in two parts over 2022, beginning with three novels; Spheres of Influence by Violet Addison & David N Smith, The Most Haunted Man by Sarah Groenewegen, and Legacy of the Dominator by Nick Walters.