Paperback:

Published: Lightning Books (April 2020)

ISBN: 9781785631733


Beneath the Streets

Adam Macqueen

£8.99

When Jeremy Thorpe hired thugs to kill his ex-lover, they botched it. What if they had succeeded?

‘A breathtaking, heartbreaking thriller’ – Jake Arnott

It is February 1976, and the naked corpse of a shockingly underage rent boy is fished out of a pond on Hampstead Heath. Since the police don’t seem to care, twenty-year-old Tommy Wildeblood – himself a former ‘Dilly boy’ prostitute – finds himself investigating.

Dodging murderous Soho hoodlums and the agents of a more sinister power, Tommy uncovers another, even more shocking crime: the Liberal leader and likely next Home Secretary, Jeremy Thorpe, has had his former male lover executed on Exmoor and got clean away with it. Now the trail of guilt seems to lead higher still, and a ruthless Establishment will stop at nothing to cover its tracks.

In a gripping thriller whose cast of real-life characters includes Prime Minister Harold Wilson, his senior adviser Lady Falkender, gay Labour peer Tom Driberg and the investigative journalist Paul Foot, Adam Macqueen plays ‘what if’ with Seventies political history – with a sting in the tail that reminds us that the truth can be just as chilling as fiction.

OUT APRIL 2020. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW

Extracts

The door was booted in and a blinding bright light bathed us both for a fraction of a second, leaving the darkness afterwards more black than ever before. I could feel him go rigid, but I kept a firm grip on the part of him that had been rigid already, bracing my own legs so he was pinned where he stood. Besides, there was nowhere for him to go as the flashbulb went off again, and again, and a fourth time for luck. The figure in the doorway was so vast he filled it entirely: the wall behind offered no escape bigger than than the four-inch gap at the bottom or the glory-hole drilled by the bogroll dispenser. Unless he fancied flushing himself down the toilet itself, he was well and truly trapped.

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Extracts

The door was booted in and a blinding bright light bathed us both for a fraction of a second, leaving the darkness afterwards more black than ever before. I could feel him go rigid, but I kept a firm grip on the part of him that had been rigid already, bracing my own legs so he was pinned where he stood. Besides, there was nowhere for him to go as the flashbulb went off again, and again, and a fourth time for luck. The figure in the doorway was so vast he filled it entirely: the wall behind offered no escape bigger than than the four-inch gap at the bottom or the glory-hole drilled by the bogroll dispenser. Unless he fancied flushing himself down the toilet itself, he was well and truly trapped.

‘Mr Terry Hopkins? Of 32 Leominster Gardens, NW9?’ The photographer spoke in a brisk, businesslike voice. From behind him came the sounds of a stampede as the cottage was vacated.

‘Wh-what?’ Hopkins was literally shrinking as he spoke. I let go of his rapidly deflating cock and turned sideways to yank up my trousers, taking my time with my belt buckle so I didn’t have to look in his direction.

‘Apologies for startling you, but I’m afraid it was necessary.’ The fat man tapped his camera and stood aside to let me slip past him and out of the cubicle, heading straight for the stairs. ‘Your wife’s solicitor will be in touch in a few days.’

I didn’t look back as I surfaced into the sharp cold of the winter evening. Women and men in hats and scarves milled along the pavement. A bus blasted past, its steamed-up windows aglow, commuters packed inside as tight as pilchards. I turned to my right and set off down at a brisk trot, wanting to put as much distance between myself and Mr Terry Hopkins of Leominster Gardens as I could. In the Shakespeare’s Head the drinkers were knocking back their pints obliviously; two separate worlds of men, both seeking out companionship, comfort and an escape from the daily grind, separated by just a few feet of concrete and the width of the world. The punters from the cottage had surfaced and dispersed back into anonymity, swallowed up by the city. At street level we can all pass for ordinary men.

I hurried under the big sign I had been so thrilled to recognise when I first came to London a few years earlier: Carnaby Street Welcomes the World. The shops were all shut, their interiors darkened, their frontages, once so fresh and exciting, now faded and worn. The brightly coloured patterned paving was blotted with piles of black rubbish bags awaiting collection. Welcome to London, 1976: try swinging if you must, but you’d better beware of the consequences.

quotes

‘A wonderfully evocative walk on the wild side of 1970s London, Beneath the Streets is darkly comic and deeply moving. A breathtaking, heartbreaking thriller’

Jake Arnott

‘A f***ing fantastic read. A gripping what-if thriller, packed with vivid period detail and page-turning twists. To find myself actually making an appearance in the final chapter was just cream on the cake’

Tom Robinson

‘A page-turning mystery, skilfully plotted and filled with tension, Beneath The Streets lifts the lid on 1970s subculture to spine-tingling effect’

Paul Burston

‘A thrilling and brilliantly imaginative novel. It takes you into the secret world of Soho in the 1970s. But then suddenly it opens another door into the hidden world of violence and corruption that still lies underneath the England we know today’

Adam Curtis

reviews

extras

ABOUT

Adam Macqueen

Adam Macqueen’s books include The Prime Minister’s Ironing Board and The Lies of the Land: A Brief History of Political Dishonesty. The King of Sunlight, his biography of the soap manufacturer William Hesketh Lever, was named by The Economist as one of its books of the year.

He has contributed to Private Eye since 1997, and wrote the bestselling history of the magazine which was published for its 50th anniversary in 2011. He is also on the editorial team of Popbitch, and from 1999-2002 was deputy editor of The Big Issue.

He lives on the South Coast with his husband, painter Michael Tierney.

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