Project Description

The Sandpit

(publication July 2020)

When John Dyer returns to Oxford from Brazil with his young son, he doesn’t expect to find them both in danger. Every day is the same. He drops Leandro at his smart prep school and walks to the library to research his new book. His time living on the edge as a foreign correspondent in Rio is over.

But the rainy streets of this English city turn out to be just as treacherous as those he used to walk in the favelas. Leandro’s schoolmates are the children of influential people, among them an international banker, a Russian oligarch, an American CIA operative and a British spook. As they congregate round the sports field for the weekly football matches, the network of alliances and covert interests that spreads between these power brokers soon becomes clear to Dyer. But it is a chance conversation with an Iranian nuclear scientist, Rustum Marvar, father of a friend of Leandro, that sets him onto a truly precarious path.

When Marvar and his son disappear, several sinister factions seem acutely interested in Marvar’s groundbreaking research at the Clarendon Lab, and what he might have told Dyer about it, given Dyer was the last person to see Marvar alive.

Advance praise

A remarkable contemporary thriller – with shades of Graham Greene and Le Carré about it – but also a profound and compelling investigation of a hugely complex human predicament. Brilliantly observed, captivatingly written, grippingly narrated – a triumph

William Boyd

Nicholas Shakespeare gathers comparisons to the great and the good. He needs none. He is what he is — a very fine English novelist

John Lawton

Nicholas Shakespeare honours the best traditions of the novel

Thomas Keneally, TLS

One of the best English novelists of our time

Wall Street Journal

A great novelist

Peter Craven, The Melbourne Age