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Manhattan: A City from a Dream by Laurence O’Bryan

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Laurence O'Bryan

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I wanted to go to Manhattan long before I arrived on a Greyhound bus coming through the rolling forests of New York State from Toronto.  I still remember my first glimpse of sparkling grey skyscrapers as we came over a low ridge.

It was 1988 and Times Square was still an area where you might lose more than your wallet. I watched a preacher there fuming about racial equality and I felt a real unease on the streets. This was caused, I later found out, by the deprivation in that area, which had existed since the seventies and further back still. All that has changed now. You can bring your family to Times Square without having to worry about meeting a gunman asking you for your wallet.

Manhattan had a mythical status in my mind at that time. It still does. It was a character on its own right in many old Hollywood movies featuring Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra and Audrey Hepburn, and too many gangsters and policemen to count.

Coming from ultra low-rise Dublin, Manhattan was a city from another world. A world of glamour and money and adventure all wrapped up in a city that never slept. I’ve been back three times since. Each time she has shown me something different.

I’ve been enthralled in the New York Public library looking through the archive of old newspapers, been captivated by the majestic star studded main hall in Grand Central Terminal and stood in the wind at the top of the Empire State Building. That midtown part of Manhattan where all those sights are should be classified as a museum, our perhaps even one of the seven Man Made Wonders of the World.

I wanted to set a novel in Manhattan not just because of its beauty. Manhattan is also one of the centres of power in the world. Vast sums of money slosh around between its banks, and vast egos walk it streets. And everyone is on the hustle.

The Manhattan Puzzle emerged over a one year period. I wanted to change things from what had happened in The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle and one way I did this was to tell much of the story through the protagonist Isabel’s eyes. So far no one has said I have done anything wrong in telling a story from a female perspective, but I am open to criticism, if you spot anything.

My writing process involves two to three hours a day of creating 1500 words, then the next day editing it before starting the next 1500 words. The novel then goes to my editor at Harper Collins. When I get it back I work on suggestions for a few months and then we do it all again. After that it’s one final proof read and then it goes to the shops and is made available online.

The novel is doing well, thankfully, so the chance of the next novel in the series being published is high. I can’t tell you the title, but I can tell you I am visiting Nuremberg shortly. The remaining characters will face a resurrected fascist threat and some new deadly puzzles and then it will be on to another city.

The Manhattan Puzzle sees Sean and Isabel (my characters from The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle) finally reunited in Manhattan at the headquarters of one of the world’s largest banks, BXH, a fictional invention. There have been some grisly murders. Then the plot takes a new twist. The contents of the book they found in The Istanbul Puzzle is revealed.

Another personal reason for writing this story was my disgust at the financial crisis that has brought many so low in the past few years. The final toll of the austerity programs caused by the financial crash, fuelled by Wall Street, is still not told. I became interested in the myths and the beliefs of those who value money above everything and I read a lot about the endless greed that thrives in large banks.

The Manhattan Puzzle is about other things too though. For instance, what would you do if your partner didn’t come home one night? And what would you think if the police turned up at your door the next day looking for him?

Relationships are under stress everywhere, in some cases because of the demands placed on us by our jobs, but few of us will face what Isabel has to face that morning when Sean goes missing.

Be warned though, there is violence from the start in The Manhattan Puzzle. The opening has a woman inflicting it on a man. I’m tired of reading about men inflicting sexual violence on women. I think it’s time for the handcuffs to swop wrists. And they certainly do in The Manhattan Puzzle. You can download the first chapter here as a pdf.

And don’t get me wrong. I love Manhattan. It’s a city in a snow globe. A city from a dream.

About The Manhatten Puzzle:

An international cover-up that could change the course of history…

Sean has been tracking a symbol from another age. It provides a clue to a barbaric conspiracy. A puzzle with an answer feared for millenia.

When Isabel wakes to find Sean hasn’t come home she doesn’t worry. At first. But when the police turn up on her doorstep wanting to interview him, she has to make a decision.

Does she keep faith in him or does she believe the evidence?
The symbol Sean and Isabel have been chasing will finally be revealed in Manhattan as one of the greatest banks in the world totters. Can Isobel uncover the truth before time runs out…or will she too be murdered?

To order The Manhattan Puzzle click here.

Or to visit my website click here: www.lpobryan.com

About the author

Find out how Laurence O’Bryan got published after 133 rejections! Read his article here.

Laurence has also written several great articles on Theme and Genre, and Writing with Pace.

He discusses his book The Jerusalem Project here.

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