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How We Can See Things Differently: Poison Sky by Paul McNeive

Writing.ie | Magazine | Crime | Interviews
Poison sky

By Paul McNeive

So, how did connections between televisions and cheese lead to the invention of “picture in picture” technology, and earn Hitachi hundreds of millions of euro?

That’s a true story which I learned about when pursuing my interest in “lateral thinking”-the art of seeing things differently, by viewing them from a new perspective. It’s something that police forces aren’t good at, in that they are trained through “logical thinking,” where everything has to make sense, and be provable, before moving onto the next step. (Our children are educated through logical thinking methods too, which I believe is constraining their potential.)

In my first thriller, The Manhattan Project, (2018) I introduced an evil genius Japanese businessman, with a flair for “thinking outside the box” and he took revenge on the US with a unique plan, which took advantage of weaknesses in the western medical system. It was so plausible that the then Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, called me into the NHS headquarters in London to discuss it. She then invited me to speak about it at medical conferences in the UK and she even launched the book for me, in Covent Garden. I have no doubt that her praise for the book was a factor in attracting some subsidiary rights deals.

In my new thriller Poison Sky, published November 2021, my Japanese baddies are at it again, with another extraordinary plan to wreak havoc in New York, London and Munich. Once again they team up with an Afghanistan based terrorist group, in order to avail of their “sleepers,” – veterans of the war against the US who have returned to the west and live, unsuspected, as part of the establishment.   

My protagonist, Detective John Wyse has been promoted to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Manhattan, where he is paired with the eccentric Detective Deke Hansen, who mentors him in his quirky lateral thinking techniques. With airplanes mysteriously falling from the sky, and a deadly toxin spreading on the streets, the police have no idea who is behind the attacks, nor, how they are doing it. And as the bodies pile up, can our detectives new ways of thinking, somehow uncover the plan and outsmart the terrorists?

The two detectives are helped by Rachel Taylor, a forensic accountant also working in the department, and a tense romantic dynamic develops between the three. And the fear becomes personal when a terrorist sleeper targets Rachel and her daughter, in order to distract the detectives.

I had a lot of fun researching for this book and I indulged my love of aviation with plenty of airplane and helicopter scenes, all prepared with help from two pilot buddies. Without giving too much away, I spent a lot of time with two veterinary surgeons, including Pete Wedderburn, the well-known, Bray based, vet and author.

But the star of my research team is a detective working in an anti-terrorism unit in Manhattan, whom I was introduced to, by e-mail, by a friend in the States. When I tentatively e-mailed him, asking if he would help me with research, I got an immediate response saying “Call me anytime. I never sleep.” That line was so good that I gave it to my quirky detective character. My source gave me a fantastic inside track on the workings of the unit, and a lot of the small detail that brings a story to life. Understandably, of course, there were plenty of times when the response was “Can’t tell you that!”

Another piece of research central to the plot, was with an IT specialist, after I had read in a newspaper about the tactics he used to track down an errant politician who was tweeting anonymously from an internet café. He explained it all to me and I passed the knowledge on to my detectives.

A credit card security specialist with an Irish bank completed my research team, and he explained how criminals create fake cards and how the banks track them down. It really is lovely how experts are genuinely delighted to help authors with research work, and no author should ever be afraid to ask politely for help. Thanking them with a copy of your last book and a bottle of wine will also be a great investment.  

Another idea which is boosting sales and garnering publicity is that I used local locations such as Poppies in Enniskerry and The Harbour Bar in Bray as settings in the story, by transplanting them to Manhattan. That alone merited a feature in the local newspaper. I also had a lot of fun using friends names as characters-with their permission of course, and that generates sales too.  

Growing up on a diet of Tom Clancy style thrillers seems to have instilled me with a love of “high concept,” blockbuster style books, with exotic settings, airplanes, terrorists, cops, and scenes in the White House. I worked hard to develop my characters more this time, and tried to keep the plot simple and fast. Luckily I seem to have got the mix about right as the most common feedback is “I couldn’t put it down!” To my delight, all of the first batch of reviews on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon.com are five star and the book has an average rating on Amazon.co.uk of 4.75.  

And just as happened with The Manhattan Project, it was an excellent readers report organised for me by Vanessa Fox-O’Loughlin at The Inkwell Group, that lifted Poison Sky to a new level, ready for publication.

So, how did televisions and cheese lead to the invention of “picture in picture“ technology…? Sorry, I’m at my wordcount. You’ll have to buy the book!

For a signed paperback edition of Poison Sky in Ireland, visit paulmcneive.com

(c) Paul McNeive

About Poison Sky:

Airplanes are mysteriously falling from the sky and a deadly toxin is spreading through the streets of major cities. New York, London and Munich are filled with panic, paranoia and terror. And nobody knows who’s behind it all.

Somewhere, a twisted genius is masterminding a global crisis.

New York detective John Wyse and maverick cop Deke Hansen face the biggest challenge of their lives in a race to out-think the cunning and dangerous terrorists who are bringing the world to its knees using medieval tactics.

But the terrorists will stop at nothing to prevent Wyse unravelling their evil plot. As the bodies pile up, the threat suddenly gets very personal when the woman Wyse loves becomes a target.

With time running out, Wyse has to convince his bosses that a powerful psychopath is taking deadly revenge in the most bizarre and unpredictable way. Can he persuade the authorities to act, or will he have to take the law into his own hands?

Poison Sky – Because sometimes the old ways work better than the new!

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Living in the mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland, Paul McNeive is an author and motivational speaker and writes a weekly opinion column for the Irish Independent newspaper.
“Poison Sky” is Paul McNeive’s second thriller and reflects his passion for fast-paced stories in international settings. “Poison Sky” continues to track the life of New York detective, John Wyse, as he pits his wits against an evil genius bent on revenge, who has come up with an extraordinary plan to bring terror to western cities.
Paul McNeive’s first thriller, “The Manhattan Project,” was published in Ireland by a UK publisher and was a bestseller. It was then published in the UK and there were subsidiary rights sales, including to Germany, and audiobooks. “The Manhattan Project” was inspired by Paul McNeive’s experiences as a double amputee with the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The novel was launched and championed by the then Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, who proclaimed it a huge help in raising awareness of this global threat.
Paul McNeive’s first book, “Small Steps,” is an autobiographical business book, which tells how Paul McNeive applied the lessons he learned in rehabilitating from his accident, to his business career, and life generally, with great success. “Small Steps” was also a bestseller in Ireland.
Paul McNeive is on the board of Ireland’s National Rehabilitation Hospital and is an ambassador for the Douglas Bader Foundation.
Paul has three children and lives with his wife Kate, and their lurcher, “Glenda,” who features in both thrillers. For more information visit paulmcneive.com
You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or his website: paulmcneive.com

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