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About James R Vance
Author James R Vance:
Originally from England, I now live in rural south west France. My first novels, 'Animal Instinct', 'Killer Butterfly' and 'The Courier' were published between 2008 and 2010. They formed a trilogy depicting the careers of two detectives. My knowledge of Cheshire and Greater Manchester is apparent in both 'Animal Instinct' and 'Killer Butterfly'. The final novel of the trilogy,'The Courier', uses my experience of working in France and London as an inspiration for the storyline. My fourth novel 'Eight', published in 2011,is a crime fiction novel set mostly in France, a sequel to the trilogy featuring one of the detectives and a former suspect. My knowledge of both countries enabled me to provide a backdrop for the plot. During this same period, I also wrote and published a children's short story, 'Goose'.
Having discovered that I live in an area swamped by a rich tapestry of war-time memories, I have since dedicated my time to unearthing stories of resistance activities in this region before the extraordinary tales disappear along with the ageing survivors of that period. My novel, 'Les Ruines', was my first foray into the genre of historical fiction. After researching local sites and listening to personal recollections of French Resistance exploits during WWII, I produced a mysterious tale of tragic events involving betrayal, retribution and chaos during the fragmented liberation of France. The novel was exhibited at the London Book Fair 2012 and a version of the novel in French will be available towards the end of 2015.
In April 2013, I published my next historical fiction project, 'Risk', about agents of the Special Operations Executive who organised evaders' escape lines from occupied France during the Second World War. Combining romance and tragedy, the novel will have subtle links to 'Les Ruines'. To learn more about these wartime exploits, I became a member of E.L.M.S. the Escape Lines Memorial Society, based in the U.K.
My subsequent published book is entitled 'Something Old, Something New', another novel of the historical fiction genre that examines some of the enduring nightmares, consequences from the Nazi occupation of France. It was published in February 2014 to complete the trilogy.
My last project, 'Without Yesterday: Mona's War' tells the story of two young women from vastly different backgrounds whose lives collide during WWII with dramatic consequences. It was published in Octiber 2015.
Currently, I am working on another historical fiction novel, tentatively entitled, 'The Housekeeper'.
I am also a contributor to a locally produced English newspaper, The Bugle, with a distribution across a major part of the Limousin. As a published author, I am involved with a local Writers' Group that meets monthly to discuss our individual projects and support each other in developing writing skills. In 2015, the group worked on a project to produce an anthology of short stories, contributed by its members. The book, entitled, 'French Briefs' was published in November 2015.
In August 2015, I participated by running a workshop in the Charroux Literary Festival in the Vienne department of France.
During the Second World War in occupied France, the Gestapo, aided by the Milice, confronts resistance groups determined to achieve liberation. Two young women from vastly different backgrounds, victims of Nazi reprisals, meet under dramatic circumstances. Struggling to survive in a cauldron of lies and deceit where trust is a rare commodity, one has the opportunity to save the life of the other at the expense of her own life. Honesty and trust become rare qualities; everyone has choices to make with no guarantee of a secure outcome. Time is precious, lives are at stake and a Nazi leader is attempting to protect his future, unaware of its consequences.
This compelling novel is a stark reminder of the dark years of WWII in occupied France by an author who takes the reader on a journey from the aftermath of the Great War to the barbarism of the Nazis during the occupation of France in WWII.
Almost seventy years later, his descendants literally discover the ‘skeleton in the cupboard’ when they learn the truth about a grandfather whose perceived war record had hidden his courage and risk-taking in the service of his country. The revelations about Geoffrey Miller's double life astound two families previously connected only by the English Channel.
Her quest takes her on a journey of revelation about the chaotic weeks that led to the fragmented liberation of France. With her marriage falling apart, she invites a close friend to accompany her, leaving her husband at home. The two women encounter a strange atmosphere of reticence amongst local inhabitants as they uncover evidence of grim secrets buried in the ruins of a former fortress and chateau.
Her obsessive investigation brings her into contact with Marcel, a former member of the maquis. His reticence to discuss his own involvement leads her to delve deeper into the past. As she learns about the terrifying exploits of the Das Reich 2nd Panzer Division during its march from Montauban to Normandy, dark secrets begin to emerge.
On her return to England, her personal life continues to unravel causing her domestic situation to reach crisis point. As the mystery in France appears about to be resolved, tragedy strikes.
An investigation into the deaths of two young French males in the U.K. brings Petra into confrontation with her old adversary, Detective Chief Inspector Massey, who arrives in France accompanied by a colleague. Clashes of personality and previous antagonisms hinder the inquiry until the action moves to Marseille. Petra and her detective colleagues are forced to put aside their differences to prevent the success of a plot to send Al Qaeda-trained suicide bombers to the U.K. A raid by the security services at the villa of Michel Dumas, a wealthy businessman suspected of involvement with terrorist activities, places Petra and the English detectives in danger.
Petra is confused by the main aspects of the investigation and the roles of the participants in the security operation. Though masquerading as a student under an assumed name, she is determined to discover the truth about the assignment, the radical views of Alexis and the incredible ramblings of his grandmother.
Once again, the mystery surrounding Nicholas II, the last Tsar of All the Russias, threatens to rewrite history. Added to this, the imminent threat of terrorist activity in the U.K. causes unexpected twists and turns in the outcome of Petra’s journey of discovery.