Today is the official publication day for Burke and the Lines of Torres Vedras. It’s the seventh in the James Burke series. Lee Child says that it was the seventh Jack Reacher story that was his breakthrough novel, so I live in hope.
The Lines of Torres Vedras were a line (two lines if we’re going to be fussy) of forts designed to form an impregnable barrier from the Atlantic to the River Tagus, cutting off Lisbon from advancing French troops. They really existed and it was a visit to the remains of some of the forts that triggered the idea for the book.
It’s also true that at the very end of 1810 four spies fled Lisbon to join the French.
These two facts provide the start and the finish of Burke’s latest adventure. In between we meet some real historical characters – General Beresford, who commanded Allied forces in Portugal and Colonel Fletcher who was responsible for building the forts – and a few fictional ones. There are new allies and some Portuguese traitors. The political background that led to the uncertain loyalties of Portuguese aristocrats is all true. The adventures of these characters in the world of espionage, however, come entirely from my imagination. Spying, by its nature, leaves few records. It means that this story, in particular, has allowed me free rein with a plot that combines the excitement of Fleming’s Bond stories with the more cerebral approach of Le Carré’s spies. Burke’s efforts involve forensic analysis of business accounts as well as kidnappings and murder.
Like all the Burke series, Burke and the Lines of Torres Vedras can be read without reading any of the others but the action follows on from Burke and the Pimpernel Affair with the book starting on his return to London after his adventures in Paris.
Burke and the Lines of Torres Vedras is available on Kindle at £3.99 or in paperback at a special launch price of £7.99. (All the other Burke books are now £8.99 in paperback.) I hope you will read it and, if you do, please review it on Amazon. Reviews make a huge difference.