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A novel which traces the transformation of a shy,  introspective teenager into an obsessive, hate-filled opponent of the capitalist world. An abysmal beginning to university life sets Mike on a course of self destruction and his devoted parents on a harrowing search for their lost son. The action commences in a typical English university campus but leads to Nuremberg and ultimately Rome. Along the way we learn enough about Mike's upbringing and the character of his parents  to spot the seeds of his chilling later development.

Lost Youth

Mike goes to university with high hopes and ideals, but his picture of life there swiftly disintegrates. Isolated, he is adopted by a mysterious young man who haunts the campus. Their friendship leads Mike to abandon his course to live with other youngsters in Germany where he is ecstatically happy. But his happiness is short lived and his young mind is derailed into darker territory where he becomes a tool of extreme anti-capitalists.

During his childhood Mike was lost twice: once to an abductress and once to a bullying teenage gang. In each case his parents rescued their son and strengthened their links with him. Then came the wrench of a parting that was less traumatic, but more final: Mike leaves home to become a student.

Though the phone calls come once a week assuring her that all was well at university, Mike's intuitive mother knows that it is not. At last she persuades her husband that they should pay Mike a visit, but he has vanished.

And so the search begins, a search that takes Mike's father to Germany where he discovers something about himself, but fails to find his son. It is a search that leads him back to his wife and to tragedy.

Is it possible for a young man to undergo a fundamental character change in just a few months? Mike spent his formative years in an outwardly stable, entirely sheltered, but mostly friendless environment. In the background was an angelic sister who died in the womb, a father with a serious sexual dysfunction, and a mother with a guilty secret. And yet this boy grows up in a cocoon of parental love, protected by parents who place him at the centre of their lives.

Then Mike suffers the crushing disappointment of rejection as he leaves home and enters an English university. Most students experience intense homesickness in their first weeks. Mike experiences the homesickness plus violence, illness, rejection and loneliness without relief. Unwilling to confide in his parents, the only people that could help, he clutches at just one straw of support - a dubious but intriguing dealer who haunts the fringes of his university campus. Here he finds an odd, but rewarding, friendship - a relationship that transcends his immediate problems and feeds his adolescent mind with revolutionary thoughts that align perfectly with his receptive mental state.

Mike finds the anti-globalisation creed pedalled by this character very easy to swallow. He also finds solace in smoking the cannabis that his friend grudgingly supplies him and in the golden light that enters his dreams, a light that leads him to the angelic presence of his long dead sister. Persecuted and derided he abandons the student life that has so disappointed him and, on the instructions of his strange friend, travels to an international squat in Germany.

This is his epiphany, for a few days Mike is in paradise. He is with friends in a creative, idealistic community – the exact environment that he had craved when he first entered university. But then, perhaps inevitably, he is cast into hell. A hell which hardens him for his mission.

Weaving a fascinating web around the lives of Mike and his parents, this novel is not for the faint-hearted. It has grand peaks and troughs and is unrelenting in its exposure of the thoughts and feelings of the main characters. It focuses on highly topical subjects of the 21st century yet also touches on fantasy: a combination that creates a good read and a memorable story.


Lost Sample

100,000 words

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