Both sequel and prequel to his ‘MOSAIC’, Clive Ashman’s second novel begins with high-speed 1950s action, before reverting to a very modern Europe. To a complex society on the brink and that pair of Newcastle lawyers caught in its chaos – financial, social, and political. Two old friends briefly escaping home, work, and family for a self-indulgent trip across to Italy for the fabled ‘Mille Miglia‘. Joining that recreated road-race which runs from Brescia to Rome and back again. Just like it did in 1957, before a notorious accident got the whole thing banned……
Competing today in car number ‘286‘ are a Geordie barrister, Bill Cariss, and his colleague Michael Tryton. Though why Bill keeps on disappearing during the race, or Michael’s so fixated on his friend’s strong-minded wife, won’t meet with explanations until after the finish. Once they’ve struggled back from Italy to northern England through a world whose computers are down, its infrastructure failing. Faithfully brought to Rotterdam by the 1950s Lancia Aurelia coupe Bill dubs ‘Xenobia‘, their fight for a place on the last Hull ferry becomes only the start of it. Prelude to their realisation that a Home Secretary’s minder, or else the Carabinieri, are not the only ones who seem to harbour old grudges, want to dig up the past. Further back than you’d think…..
Back to another time, another era – soon strangely familiar. To AD 286, where a junior military tribune his admiral nicknames ‘Triton‘ finds himself drawn into an entire continent of social unrest. A world riven by monetary collapse and political crises, inflation and taxation – the flight of refugees, and raiders from the sea; forced march of armies. Where that mentor he so admires – Mauseus Carausius, the Belgic river-pilot who defied an empire, commands whole fleets and legions – struggles to transform an isolated Britannia into safe refuge of sorts. Their island of protection in a rising sea of danger.
Assymetric and awful, here’s how it looks. ‘286‘ the number that binds them, across two separate eras. Whether future or past, leave or remain, its sum is the same. Two men against Europe, one woman between them: Diana, the huntress – the ‘Sea-Wolves‘ their quarry. What calculation save them?
“Men leave no mark on the sea and nor would I ……..”
“TWO-EIGHT-SIX” (Clive Ashman)
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Paperback/softback – 620 pages, 1 map, 1 line drawing.(NEW)