Posted in Crime, Guest Post, International, Political thriller on December 21, 2014

It is always exciting to feature the thoughts of an author here on StoreyBook Reviews and today I give a warm welcome to author Adrian Churchward who is the author of Moscow Bounds.  I have to say I agree with the title of his guest post, that the truth is stranger than fiction..just look at the news today and some of the crazy stories we hear each day.  You can’t make some of that stuff up!


“Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction”

After being an attorney focused on the truth for so many years, what’s it like to write fiction, and create characters out of nothing?

This is an interesting question, if only because the harsh reality of common law jurisdictions like the USA and UK is that we have an adversarial system, where the search for “truth” takes second place to the emphasis on destroying the opposing side’s credibility.

And so far as writing fiction is concerned, I suspect that few authors create characters out of nothing. Most of the characters in Moscow Bound are composites of people I met, primarily because the real-life activities I saw in Russia were so interesting. I have been reading Russian literature and about Russian culture all my life, but nothing prepared me for the realities on the streets of Moscow. To date, it has been the most fascinating period of my life.

If I were to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my experiences readers would find it impossible to suspend their disbelief.

An example:

In my novel, General Pravda of military intelligence is summoned to his superior’s office, where he’s ordered to deliver a man that Pravda removed from the secret city of Arzamas for medical reasons. The office is in a former Soviet Ministry building off Staropanksy Street, behind the Supreme Court, a few minutes’ walk from the Kremlin. I describe the room as containing a 22-seat redwood table in the middle, ten chairs either side, a large map of the world on one wall; two of the other walls clad with brown wood panelling and the fourth wall comprising a line of windows with their blinds permanently closed and a threadbare green carpet resembling a relic from the days of Catherine the Great.

This was based on a real office I visited in 1987/9, also located off Staropansky Street. It was occupied by a Soviet Ministry bureaucrat who’d accepted that the days of communism were over. It was not too difficult for me to gain access with the right connections and sufficient dollars–no “aspiring entrepreneur” could be bribed with roubles. In the real room, however, were also fifteen antiquated red telephones, one for each Soviet republic. The bureaucrat told me they were used during Stalin’s 1930 show trials, when high-ranking Kremlin members would call judges during trials to instruct them on what verdict and sentence to pronounce. In the most important cases, Stalin would personally use phones like these to call the court and order the death penalty for some hapless wretch. Soviet apologists deny this ever happened, but there is plenty of authoritative literature that establishes the contrary.

I had read about telephone law in my early Soviet studies, but that didn’t stop me from freezing when I saw these fifteen instruments, innocuously arranged on the table – waiting to convey their messages of death.

It’s a cliché, but truth really is stranger than fiction, for as Lord Byron said in his poem Don Juan:

‘Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!
How oft would vice and virtue places change!
The new world would be nothing to the old,
If some Columbus of the moral seas
Would show mankind their souls’ antipodes.’


moscow bound


When wealthy Russian Ekaterina Romanova asks Scott Mitchell, a young English human rights lawyer, to find the father she’s never met, she can’t foresee the danger they will both find themselves in. Ekaterina believes her father has been languishing for decades without trial in the Gulag system. Scott, though he’s already being intimidated by the authorities for prosecuting Russian war crimes, agrees to help. What they don’t expect is General Pravda of Russian military intelligence, who hinders their investigation at every turn. Though he’s an advocate of transparency in a corrupt and complex bureaucracy, Pravda has a secret that he needs to protect. Before long, lawyer and client are on the run for a murder they didn’t commit. As they descend into the Hades that is the world of international realpolitik, and as decades-old secrets crumble, they each must reconsider their identity in this new world.


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About the Author

adrian ChurchwardBetween 1984 and 1998 Adrian Churchward lived and worked in Moscow, Budapest and Prague as an East-West trade lawyer, representing British, American, and German corporations. During this period he became fluent in Russian, and proficient in
translating Russian commercial and legal texts into English. He was one of the few Western lawyers working in the day-to-day arena of President Gorbachev’s liberalization process of perestroika and glasnost, and which ultimately resulted in the collapse of communism and disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 1991, he witnessed the abortive coup against Gorbachev, and in 1993, he was again present in Moscow when Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the Russian parliament building, aka the “The Russian White House.” Moscow Bound is his first work of fiction. He has also co-written and co-produced a short film called Paranoia which was shown at the Budapest Film Festival in September 2013. He now lives in London, has two daughters, three grandsons and a cat that eats furniture.

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