Thank you Third Lion Publishing for sending me a free e-copy in exchange for a review.
About the book:
William Abney is a war journalist from London, England. After serving in the ﬁrst world
war as a photographer he returns to England and makes his living taking baby portraits.
He gets desperate for money and decides to ﬁnd another job. The novel opens with him
going to an interview to work for a newspaper called, The London Dove. He meets
Reginald, the owner of the newspaper, whose is an unstable alcoholic, and a little
disillusioned. William senses that there isn’t something right in the job but takes the job
anyway. The contract, proposed by Reginald, is that William travel ﬁrst to Morocco then
across the Sahara, taking pictures of the locals and anything of cultural value that can
be used in the magazine, this demand for news on the cultures of North Africa coming
from the British soldiers returning from ﬁghting there.
William takes a ship to Arish, a town on the coast of Morocco. He stays there for several
days and meets some very interesting characters, some openly cold to him, others
extremely warm and welcoming. He sees that the population in the city are divided into
three groups. The foreigners, manly Europeans coming because of the news from the
soldiers, and the locals of Arish who are split into two groups, one side wants the
foreigners there because they are good for business. The other half doesn’t because
they have taken so much advantage of the foreigners being there that they unknowingly
made it so that if the foreigners choose to suddenly leave a lot of business will go
bankrupt and hard times will come.
William takes a caravan across the desert and little by little he becomes more interested
in the desert. He becomes obsessed with seeing the dunes and feeling the silence at
the center of the desert. During his travel he meets Hans, a chess champion from
Germany whose history, like William’s, is marred by the First World War. He meets
Alexander, a once wealthy factory man from England whose wife framed him and he is
hiding in the desert. He becomes good friends with the leader of the Caravan, Hakeem,
a charismatic leader who has two sides, the fearless politician and the sensitive human
side. He falls in love with a Gypsy woman who is traveling to a small village out of
Yemen to see her grandfather, who is getting old. He also hears of a strange and
frightening legend. The legend of the Desert King, a soldier whose soul was taken over
by an evil spirit and who has spent the centuries hunting and killing anyone who
crossed his sacred desert with his army of blood thirsty warriors.
When the caravan gets close to the middle of the desert, its most vulnerable point in the
journey, William begins to think about his life in the caravan and realizes how much he
loves his life here instead of the one he lived in England. When William decides that
he’s going to ﬁnd a way to stay, the people of the caravan discover that their well is
poisoned. Because of the vast amount of people affected by the poisoning the caravan
has to stop and recover. People begin deserting the camp and more and more clues
begin to reveal themselves to William in sinister ways that they are in fact being hunted.
When he discovers who is hunting them it’s already to late and what happens next
forces William to ﬁght for his life in the caravan and the lives of his friends.
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An excerpt from Caravan, courtesy of Third Lion Publishing
It was like every London morning since the beginning of time. Foggy and wet. To all but a few, today seemed as though it was just another unadventurous happening. In his opinion, William belonged to the majority, and his stare out the coach window reflected his own bored confidence at life’s repetition, though inside he craved for the Fates to intervene.
The cobblestone street was empty and lined with lampposts glowing yellow in the fog. Over the roofs, long tongues of smoke emitted from industrial factories added to the gray in the sky. The coach came to a gradual stop on the left side of the street. William, a slender man wearing an earthy brown suit, stepped out of the coach and walked to the driver.
“How much do I owe you?” William asked.
“Thirteen pounds, sir,” the driver replied.
“Very well, let me see,” William said in a cheery voice as he reached into the right pocket of his trousers and rummaged around. William drew a fist out of his pocket and opened it. “I’m afraid two is all I’ve got. I am terribly sorry,” he said, looking up from his hand, slightly afraid the driver might become angry.
“Going through a bit of a rough patch?” the man asked.
William gave a disheartened nod.
“Well if that’s all you got, I’ll take it,” the driver said, barely satisfied, while lowering an opened hand to William. As the money traded palms, an automobile purred past the coach and disappeared farther down the street. The taxi driver tipped his top hat and sent the coach rolling forward in a sudden jolt. Now penniless, William watched as the coach carried his last two pounds down the street. He had earned the money taking a baby portrait, which had hurt his ears more than his ego. As far as he was concerned, not starving to death was more important than his honor.
William turned toward the building to his left. In front of him was a
small set of stairs that led up to a massive black door. He reached into the
front pocket of his coat and took out a piece of paper that opened to reveal
an odd triangular shape. Scribbled in the center in blue ink was a simple
note: London Dove. Reginald Helee. William looked up from the paper. Above
the door was a white plaque, reading, “The Office of the London Dove,” in a
tangle of black paint.
A sigh of determination filled the misty air.
William walked up the steps. The sound of faintly clattering typewriters
came through the door. He tapped the knocker several times and waited,
taking a step back toward the handrail. While waiting for the door to open
he turned away and looked down the street. My last two pounds, William
thought, his mind too focused on his money to notice a low, dull chime
sounding in the distance. It was seven o’clock in the morning.
A loud sequence of clicks sounded from the door and William turned
around to a man smoking a cigarette. The man’s hair was slicked back, and
he had a thin mustache. “How can I help you?” he asked in a drowsy voice,
the sound of a hundred typewriters clattering and dinging behind him.
“I am here for an appointment with Mr. Reginald Helee,” William said.
“Abney, William Abney.” He smiled sadly as he stepped closer to the door.
“Abney?” the man said, frowning, and William’s heartbeat fastened for
fear that something was wrong. “Oh, Abney. You’re here to take pictures,” the
man stated, recognition brightening his eyes.
“That’s right,” William nodded, feeling relieved that his name had not
been lost in the pile of candidates who had responded to the newspaper’s
simple advertisement: “Photographer wanted.”
“Come on in. Mr. Helee is expecting you,” the man said as he stepped back,
releasing the full roar of the typewriters. William walked through the door,
and the man closed it behind him. The room was plain and crammed wall to
wall with wooden desks. Behind them sat young men with black vests and
rolled-up sleeves, punching away at typewriters like their lives depended on
it. Second to the clattering that filled the air was a cloud of cigarette smoke
that hung just below the ceiling. The atmosphere in the room was so noisy
and busy that William had forgotten about the man standing next to him.
“Your coat?” the man asked.
“Ah, forgive me,” William said handing over the coat, and the man hung it
among a long line of overcoats and hats.
“Come this way,” the man said, walking past William through the rows
of desks. William followed. They turned right and entered a narrow hall that
led away from the main room. Flanking the narrow hallway were the doors
to other offices. At the end of the hall, a wooden staircase twisted up to the
second story, a single naked bulb the only source of light. The man started up
the stairs and William followed him.
“You can wait here,” the man said, looking down on William as if he were
unworthy to ascend the steps.
William stepped down and the man continued marching up alone.
William took a seat on the stairs and looked up at the ceiling. As he listened
to the echoing footsteps, they became fainter as they reached the lofty gloom
coming from the light bulb above. Then came a knocking, followed by the
muffled sound of a relaxed voice.
William assumed the voice belonged to the man he was there to see. He
leaned back in the staircase, the fingernails of his right hand thoughtfully
hovering near his lips. From his position, he couldn’t see much of the second
floor, only the top half of the man walking through an open door before
disappearing behind it.
The secretary walked in the office and had he not seen the room’s lavish
décor every day for years, he would’ve been awestruck. The room was
decorated wall-to-wall with red embroidered fabric and illuminated by
several lamps. The secretary sighed, hesitant to speak to the director who
was shielding his face and upper body with a newspaper at a desk situated
near the windows. Behind him, white shutters covered the panes, allowing
only four sharp rays of light to slip through the seams and enter the room.
“What is it?” a lethargic voice asked. The director was in his mid-fifties
and his dark hair had receded from the top of his head and looked slightly
disheveled; brandy and caviar had gotten the better of his health. Below his
round nose sat a mustache that the secretary could only aspire to brandish.
“There is a man here to see you, sir.” The secretary straightened his spine
and lifted his eyes to the shutters above the director’s barely visible head.
“So?” the director continued closing and opening the newspaper.
“He is currently waiting downstairs,” the secretary explained, shifting on
“Tell him to go shear a sheep,” the director declared and straightened the
newspaper in a rustling jolt.
The secretary, used to the director’s moods, cleared his throat insistantly.
“The man is William Abney, sir.”
The director slammed the newspaper down and rose to his feet. “Why,
for God’s sake, man, why didn’t you say so? Bring him in at once,” he barked,
unaware he was still wearing his red morning robe over his usual dress shirt,
a habit he had formed on sleepless nights. The secretary darted out of the
room and closed the door, fearing a desk decoration or a jar of ink would be
hurled at him.
Reginald Helee, the director of the London Dove continued to stand behind
the desk for several moments, slightly confused about what had happened.
About The Author
Although born in California, Adam De Collibus is a man of the world. In his early years he lived in South America and his love of travel has led to him living and traveling in over seventeen countries. Inspired by both historical and actual events during his travels De Collibus was compelled to write Caravan, his debut historical novel. Adam De Collibus lives mostly in California where he spends his time writing, reading, and playing the piano.