After a two-year gap, Michael Marshall has lost none of his edge

PUBLISHED: 13:07 12 April 2007 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 September 2010

by David Crozier AFTER three books featuring the Straw Men, Tufnell Park author Michael Marshall has changed direction. But his fans need not worry: Marshall s la

It's been two years since his last book but Michael Marshall has lost none of his edge, writes David Crozier

AFTER three books featuring the Straw Men, Tufnell Park author Michael Marshall has changed direction.

But his fans need not worry: Marshall's latest book, The Intruders hasn't gone all soft on us. It's just as taut and compelling as its predecessors.

And just as The Straw Men, originally intended as a single one-off book blossomed into a trilogy (with, possibly, more to come), The Intruders has already taken on a life of its own - and it hasn't even been published yet.

"The idea is something I'm developing further," Marshall said, "as I'm currently working on a 10-part series based on the book for the BBC."

The idea behind The Intruders is a simple one - and one which is kept under wraps until well into the book so I'm not going to give it away here.

Essentially the book concerns Jack Whalen, a former LAPD cop who suddenly discovers when his wife disappears, that she may not be all she seems.

And when he goes off in search of her, he uncovers a far more sinister mystery involving a strange firm of solicitors, seemingly disused buildings coming to life and a 10-year-old girl who is very much more angry than her short life would suggest her capable of.

But it's not overly violent. Despite a horrifying prologue, The Intruders keeps much of its anger to itself and prefers, as its author does, to keep the nastiness implied rather than 'in your face'.

"On screen violence really isn't my thing," he said.

But, as with his previous books, to describe the action as chilling would be a bit like calling the Sahara Desert a bit dry.

Of course Marshall hasn't always written thrillers. He began his career writing sci-fi under his real name of Michael Marshall Smith and won many awards, including the Philip K Dick and August Derleth awards for his first novel Only Forward in 1994.

And 'Smith' is back soon with a novella being published in America.

However as the book isn't sci-fi, in the UK, publishers HarperCollins have decided to publish it next year not as Michael Marshall Smith or even Michael Marshall but as MM Smith.

"I've worked out that at this rate by the year 2012 I'll be publishing books as just the letter 'M'," he joked.

o The Intruders by Michael Marshall is published next week by HarperCollins at £12.99.

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