The Banqueting Club
Norman Armstrong and Alf Burton are an unlikely pair of political friends. One is a left-wing journalist who grew up in poverty, a man with a national reputation and a sharp tongue; the other is the Tory Chief Whip, and the latest in a long family line of distinguished politicians. A violent argument between the two proves to be the beginning of a lasting bond. When Alf tells Norman that he has been lucky enough to secure access to a revelatory manuscript written by Charlotte Morris – an Edwardian popular novelist who made herself unpopular with the Establishment by campaigning against Kitchener’s concentration camps – both men immediately understand the potentially explosive significance of the event. But neither could have predicted the extraordinary way in which, against the background of 1980s Britain and the imminent miners’ strike, this political thriller would unfold.
The summer of 1984 is eventful, to say the least, in British politics. Riots, bombings and the murder of a police officer have all occurred. Besides, the miners’ strike is in progress, policed (or aggravated) by the special unit dubbed ‘Armstrong’s Army’. The strike affects the whole nation. The murder of a taxi driver and an undercover Special Branch agent; police informants infiltrating the miners’ pickets. Numerous claims are being made of police corruption and crime. Home Secretary Sir Norman Armstrong and his old friend; outspoken, left wing commentator Alf Burton, find themselves entrenched on opposite sides of this increasingly bitter and deadly fight. Can their decades-old friendship survive? Meanwhile, what of the papers lost years ago, with the sinking of the Lady Georgiana? Alf Burton uncovers increasingly disturbing links to the current day, and finds Sir Norman’s own family heavily implicated. What was the secret they concealed?
The Enemy Within
Veteran Geordie lobby correspondent, Alf Burton, has long had to balance his personal friendship with Conservative Home Secretary, Sir Norman Armstrong, with his political views and background. Anti-Thatcherite, working-class champion, crusading journalist and political commentator, his role as national radio presenter and interviewer for one of the leading Tory Party donors, heightens the tension further. Especially when the Home Office plans to enforce mass redundancies in shipbuilding hot on the heels of the bitter Miners' Strike of 1984-5. His already divided loyalties are stretched to the limit as his journalistic powers are enlisted to investigate the suspicious wartime death and disappearance of a Scotland Yard detective on the point of uncovering disturbing information concerning respected political dynasties at the heart of government. His search reveals a complex web of police corruption, organised crime and a secret society, from which extricating himself is not an option.
Synopses by Olympia Publishers.
"...Reads like a mix of House of Cards and Yes (Prime) Minister..."
(Goodreads - The Banqueting Club)
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The Armstrong & Burton series is available in paperback and on Kindle Unlimited from Amazon; and in print from Waterstones, Foyles and many other book retailers around the world. Shop links and some selected reviews can be found here;
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Although the principal characters in the Armstrong & Burton novels are wholly fictitious, a number of real people make cameo appearances, and many of the events that underpin the narrative really happened. Link here to find out more about the real history behind the stories,
including the Miners' Strike, Boer War concentration camps, the Jarrow March, the Abdication Crisis,
and 1970s and 80s British politics.
Read more about the characters, the world the inhabit, and inspiration behind them here;
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The Bill Podcast is produced and hosted by the very talented Oliver Crocker. The Bill was an iconic ITV police series, which ran for nearly 2500 episodes, from 1983 to 2010. Oliver interviews the actors who created iconic characters as well as those who worked behind the scenes, and pays tribute to those no longer with us. You can also become a supporter through Patreon.
The companion book, Witness Statements, is available now.