When Pavel Dralec calls upon former soldier and early retired merchant banker Simon Brand in Tunbridge Wells, Simon is not too put out by his request to investigate the alleged disappearance of his Labanian friends in Italy. He was due to join his yacht there for a spring cruise anyway. He is just going through the motions: doing the decent thing. But corpses keep piling up in his wake and when his old flame Sammy-Jo, dried out junkie daughter of US Senator 'Ed' Kopalski, turns up at his hotel he is given a stark choice. Simon realises he is enmeshed in something deeply sinister. The Mafia is only the first of the organisations after his blood as he pursues his mission in the good ship Wanderer, in a trail of havoc stretching from Cortina to Capri. Simon may be something of a reluctant hero but he always has a plan, and when sufficiently provoked the spirit of the Bulldog Breed which made old England great overcomes all obstacles, the impending eruption of Vesuvius is a minor detail and there is the pint-sized beauty Circe, reincarnation of the nymph from the Odyssey, to smooth the fevered brow. Russell Hanson was born in Sydney, a second generation Australian, and went to school in Melbourne. Having failed the Naval Examination at the tender age of thirteen, in 1948 he took a boat to Singapore and enlisted in the British Army in the ranks. Eventually entering Sandhurst he was commissioned in The West Yorkshire Regiment, serving in Austria, Egypt and on active service in Malaya. On becoming a substantive captain he resigned his commission and went to London to live and work. Married, divorced, with three children and seven grandchildren he now lives mainly in Spain with an apartment and a thirty-foot yacht on the Costa Blanca.