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Version Thirteen is my second thriller featuring Samuel Spendlove, an Oxford academic with a photographic memory who becomes an undercover agent.
My background is in financial journalism. The first book, Meltdown, was published in 2008, it got good notices and sold well, not least because it predicted and explained many of the elements of the global financial crisis that was to follow shortly afterwards.
I hope five years working as a script doctor have sharpened my storytelling skills and I’m really excited to announce Version Thirteen on the Unbound site.
It features some of the same characters from Meltdown – notably William Barton, master of a media empire spanning the globe, and Khan, a genius, super-secretive trader and self-styled master of the financial universe.
But whereas Meltdown was largely set in Paris and explored the madness and corruptibility of financial markets, Version Thirteen begins in Moscow and pits the world’s two most powerful lobbies against one another: the arms trade versus the oil industry.
Yavlinsky, a brilliant Russian scientist has created a piece of wonder-technology – a drilling process that uses the forces of supercavitation (the bubbles created by agitated water molecules). Named 'Version Thirteen', it enables oil explorers to take 40 per cent more oil out of the ground – it’s worth trillions .
But there’s a problem. Supercavitation is also the basis for highly sophisticated conventional weaponry - submarines and torpedoes that can travel at hundreds of kilometres per hour beneath the sea. Russian arms dealers have been selling this technology to Iran, amongst other countries, since the 1980s. If the revolutionary oil-drilling technology works, the supercavitation bubbles implode and the torpedoes and submarines are rendered useless.
Then Yavlinsky is found dead; the designs for the revolutionary supercavitational drilling process are stolen or destroyed. Someone has done a good job of suppressing this technology.
Except… One set of design plans does still exist – the one lodged in Samuel’s photographic memory. Suddenly, Samuel is the most wanted man in the world…
I’m keen to develop Version Thirteen into a movie and would welcome the interaction with readers as that process develops. Check out the extract and visit my shed for updates on my progress and draft chapters and book jacket artwork. I’d love for you all to be able to read it on the beach this summer…
For background on supercavitation and its defence applications, see:
For background on Meltdown see my website.
I’m a novelist, scriptwriter and editor, and a judge of the Writers’ Revolution scriptwriting competition. I read law at Brasenose College, Oxford and qualified as a lawyer at a top City firm before pursuing a pluralistic career as a journalist.
Earlier work: a bitingly satirical critique of market capitalism (A Fool And His Money, Orion) and a novel, (Meltdown, Pan Macmillan), a prescient financial thriller that predicted market collapse – described by one Hollywood agent as ‘The Firm meets Wall Street, meets The Bourne Identity’. Version Thirteen is the second in the Meltdown trilogy.
I know the financial and economic coalface extremely well: From broadcaster at LBC, to City reporter at The Times, money correspondent at the Independent, investment editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, associate editor at Sunday Business, to editor-in-chief of the now-defunct UK arm of thestreet.com, I’ve witnessed dot.com mania, trading frenzy and financial folly in all its forms. I’ve met and interrogated eccentric entrepreneurs (including the BBC’s Dragons before they were famous), World Bank presidents, finance ministers, heads of state – the good, the great, and the not-so-great.
By Martin Baker
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