Who's who in the novel

41, Celia is English but lives in Munich and is married to Franz. They have one child Maximilian. She studied History of Art and did her doctorate in Munich where she met Franz.  She now works as a picture restorer for the Bavarian Department for the Care and Preservation of Ancient Monuments.
She becomes convinced that there is something strange in the disappearance of her brother Ned, and her investigations lead her into all sorts of trouble.

Franz-Josef Thomas
43, Franz is Austrian and works for the Deutsche Bahn as a train conductor on the night trains crossing Europe. He is a former philosophy professor who decided to do something different after a major disagreement with the new head of the department at the university in Munich.
Franz and Celia's marriage is going through a rocky patch at the moment.

Maximillian Thomas
15, lives with his parents in their apartment in Münchener Freiheit. There may be more to him than meets the eye, but I haven’t worked out what that is yet.

Ilse, Gräfin von Wülow
91, Ilse is Franz’s great aunt and lives in the next door apartment to the Thomas family, in fact she owns the whole building. She is a former psychoanalyst who spent the war in Switzerland, studying. Her husband however died at Stalingrad.  
After the war she moved back to Munich and set up practice there. In the early 90s Celia rented a room from her while she was doing her doctorate and Ilse introduced her to Franz. Ilse is very fit both physically and mentally and apart from writing articles on topics to do with psychotherapy, she is a reader of Tarot cards. She also acts as a surrogate mother / grandmother to the Thomas’s.

Colonel Ivan Kaiec
58, the Colonel is now a very respectable and wealthy owner of hotels and villas in Croatia. His rise to wealth and prominence is mysterious as it dates from the end of the civil war in Croatia. Celia's inquiries about her brother are very unwelcome.

Tomislav Lederer
42, Tomi is a very charming and attractive freelance journalist who takes an interest in Celia's story after a chance encounter in a hotel bar in Zagreb. But where do his interests really lie?

Jeremy Fisk
51, Jeremy is  director of communications for Report International, a large media empire. Formerly a colleague of Ned Atkinson, Celia's brother, he is supportive of Celia's efforts to find out about her brother.

Bernard Creasey
45, Bernard was a camera man at the time Ned disappeared. Since then he's changed his field of work and runs Paradise Erotic Productions Ltd.

Timothy Arnold
Timothy is now approaching 63 and is asked by the Department for British Export Development (an undercover agency which actively helps promote British exports when officially the government should not be doing so) to do one last job for them when Celia starts to make herself unpopular with the Colonel. (See also short story “A Spy is Born” under Good Things).

Paul and Colin Atkinson
60 and 58 respectively, Paul and Colin are extremely annoyed with their sister Celia when she starts suggesting that their younger brother Ned is still alive. This would force a rethink of the comfortable story that they have told themselves and their circle over the years.

Ned Atkinson
Is he alive or isn’t he? If he is, why is he in hiding? Was it something he found out in Zagreb in the mid-nineties? Or was there some other reason for his disappearance? Or is it all in Celia's head?


  1. Sarah17/4/13

    Hi James,
    We would love to have chapters 9 - 19, is this possible?
    Best wishes,

  2. Dear Sarah,

    Yes, I'm getting there slowly. I hope chapter 9 will be ready by Sunday. It's a work in progress...


  3. Anonymous28/11/14

    A special language challenge for you, if I may: Your plot summary refers to "ethnic cleansing". There is nothing clean about "ethnic cleansing". How about an alternative, more appropriate term instead? Not easy, perhaps, but worth the effort surely.

  4. Very interesting point. See post entry 30.11.14


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