New release: Simon Parkinson. *Photo supplied
New release: Simon Parkinson. *Photo supplied
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FRIDAY, JUNE 15: A locally-written mystery adventure novel that begins with the attempted illicit sale of the famous Bermuda Perot stamp is now available to buy.

The Legionniare: The Mask of the Pharaoh, a fictional work by British-born Simon Parkinson, explores the mystery surrounding the theft of the golden burial mask of Tutankhamun — the most important archaeological find of the 20th century.

When it is stolen from the guarded hold of a cargo ship in the middle of the Atlantic, the impact threatens to destroy one man’s life.

Stephen Anderson, a former Sergeant in the French Foreign Legion, fakes his own death in the Algerian desert after witnessing the murder of a fellow legionnaire at the hands of senior officers. He begins a new life as an investigator for a large US insurance company while letting his colleagues take the credit for the items he retrieves.

He is put in charge of locating the Tutankhamun mask which attracts high profile press coverage and threatens to expose his identity.

The famous Bermuda Perot stamp plays a role as a decoy in the novel and was included in the plot before Parkinson even knew he would be moving to the island.

Parkinson, an IT manager for a financial firm by day, told the Bermuda Sun: “I wrote this novel a year and a half before I came to Bermuda. When I hit the island and I saw the Perot Post Office I thought ‘wait a minute, I remember that!’

“The book starts with somebody calling up the hero and offering to sell him this stolen stamp in order to get him out of the way so that the theft of the mask can succeed. I needed it to be something that was relatively small as it is set on an aeroplane and I came across the stamp. I did some research and I found the Queen of England has three of the stamps and Dr David Saul has the others — they are worth $100,000 US each. I had no idea I was coming here, I hope it will help sales!”

The Legionnaire, Parkinson’s second published novel, is the first part of a three-part series that is currently in the works. Parkinson is ex-military having travelled the world with the Artillery and Air Force, spent time in the Persian Gulf War and on several NATO peacekeeping missions.

He said he has used much of his life experience as inspiration, and also research, for his novel.

He was also able to connect with an ex-legionnaire Evan McGorman who was invaluable as a resource. “Evan wrote a book about his years in the legion — the daily life, food, deployments… I started talking to him and he helped me to develop the character. It was a direct collaboration with Evan in getting it correct — he made the character very real.”

While his book is fiction in genre, Parkinson — inspired by the works of novelist Bernard Cornwell —  likes to infuse as much historical fact into his books as possible.

“Cornwell uses history to put his novels into perspective which is what I like to do. What I am doing is based on the real world and what is quite possible.”

The novel, which has been named Outstanding in Genre by Red Adept Select, is available on www.amazon.com and www.smashwords.com and it is hoped that it will soon be stocked at bookstores on the island.