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A writer’s story


A writer’s story

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Frank Hurst, who writes under a pseudonym, was born in London and spent thirty-six years as an investigator for HM Customs, Scotland Yard and the British Foreign Office.

He travelled widely in his career, including long spells in India, Thailand and the eastern Caribbean, tracking down some of the biggest traffickers in the world of drugs smuggling. He received the Outstanding Law Enforcement Award from the US Department of Justice for his work against Howard Marks, aka “Mr Nice” and has been a contributor to the recently published, Drug War – The Secret History by Peter Walsh. After leaving the service of the Crown, Frank has devoted his time to writing novels. His Golden Triangle Trilogy, set in the Far East, has received wide acclaim and won literary awards.

He now shares his time between his apartment in Phuket, a ramshackle hut in Isaan and a cottage in West Sussex. For a contemporary writer of fiction to reveal that he doesn’t read modern novels is a shocking admission, but in my case it’s a fact. Indeed, up until a few years ago I was not much into books at all. Now the opposite is the case. As a younger man I was too busy and too engrossed in my day job to give me space for proper reading. I certainly never envisaged writing a novel. The irony is that it was my job that eventually got me into scribbling – and Thailand. So, I can be doubly grateful for that. It’s a long story…

Growing up, I’d been encouraged to read. I’d flick my way wearily through some of the classic novels – school saw to that, but when I was old enough to choose my own books, I preferred historical non-fiction, mostly biographies about famous dead people. The Victorian explorers in particular fascinated me, both military and civilian. Travelling alone into distant lands, many sacrificed their lives for the, now rather out modish, concept of Queen and country. One book The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk made a big impression on me. It told the story of British and Russian spy networks in Northern India, Afghanistan and Central Asia. The fact that these were true accounts of people who had actually existed made the narrative even more spellbinding.

More recently, I’ve started to read a little more fiction but I’m a bit of a fuddy-duddy and like the old stuff the best. Graham Greene and George Orwell have been very inspirational. Their sentences are so simple but so descriptive at all sorts of levels. My love of the Far East has been a reoccurring theme and so I found Orwell’s first book Burmese Days brilliant to read – tragic and politically very thought provoking, and Greene’s The Quiet American set in French colonial Vietnam is simply wonderful. I think I modelled my anti-hero Mike Rawlin on the central character in that book to some extent – past his best, nervous about the future, willing to do bad things to get his own way. I really enjoyed The World of Suzie Wong by Richard Mason set in 1950s Hong Kong; the first story I know about a man falling in love with a bar girl – very sensitively written and it had a happy ending! But it’s with a sense of some embarrassment that I admit I hardly ever read modern crime novels – I should, of course, even if it’s just to see what the competition is up to!

How did it all start? A stroke of good fortune set me on the right path. I got very fluky in my early career. More by luck than judgement, and after flunking university, I was recruited into the investigation arm of HM Customs in London within weeks of joining the British Civil Service. They must have seen something in me that others had missed, including me. As a result, I spent the next nearly thirty or so years chasing criminals, mostly drugs traffickers, and often in some far-flung corners of the globe. I remember asking an ancient colleague, shortly after I’d joined the service in the late 70s, what opportunities there were to serve the Crown overseas. He shook his head gloomily and said “None whatsoever!”


Source: Expat Life Thailand

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

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