Gender and language: the Berlin thriller "Blood Summit"


Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

Thrillers: why did I re-publish my thrillers “Blood Summit” and “Eternal Life”? Because I can no longer bring the Foreign Office into disrepute.

‘Leave me alone!’ An order. But then she made a mistake. ‘Please.’

I recently published new editions of my thrillers, “Blood Summit”

Blood Summit by Leigh Turner

…and Eternal Life”. Why did this happen?

Eternal Life by Leigh Turner

Not an ambassador any more

US publisher Immortal Works published my Istanbul thriller “Palladium” in 2022. It was the first book released under my real name, Leigh Turner, instead of my pseudonym, Robert Pimm. This was possible because I was no longer the British Ambassador in Vienna but had retired to become a full-time writer. When I was a diplomat, the Foreign Office used to fret that my thrillers could somehow “bring the Foreign Office into disrepute”. Now I am not longer a diplomat, the supposed “disrepute” risk has vanished into thin air.

Palladium by Leigh Turner

Disrepute: Palladium

I am hoping lovers of thrillers will enjoy “Palladium”. Feedback has been terrific. I am keen that if anyone reads “Palladium”, or my recently-published book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Diplomacy“, and searches for other books by Leigh Turner, they will find something.

If you can find anything in Palladium or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Diplomacy that brings what is at present called the FCDO into disrepute, please let me know. I actually think the FCDO is a fine organisation, and have no wish whatsoever to bring it into disrepute! But that doesn’t mean I can’t be critical or make fun of its foibles.

Thrillers: Eternal Life

After the publication of Palladium I also produced a second edition of my speculative thriller “Eternal Life”, with Leigh Turner instead of Robert Pimm as the author.

But that’s not all.

Blood Summit: Foreign Office fretting

The team at “Immortal Works” gave me great advice on how to edit thrillers. I applied those skills to “Eternal Life”, shortening it by about 12% to make it even more fast-moving. I have done the same with Blood Summit. The results are in the version at the link below:

Blood Summit by Leigh Turner

I was particularly pleased to be out from under the shadow of “bringing the Foreign Office into disrepute” with Blood Summit. Before I first published it in 2018, under a pseudonym, the personnel department actually threatened me in writing with disciplinary action should anyone perceive that the book brought the FCO into disrepute. This seemed to me – as I said at the time – verging on censorship. How could I possibly be sure no-one would take offence or make a fuss, ever? Anyhow, that threat is now lifted. Hooray!

Blood Summit: what’s different about the second edition?

Keeping thrillers as tight, and fast-moving, as possible is essential. As with “Eternal Life,” the second edition of “Blood Summit” is a bit shorter (about 5%) and I hope reads even better than the first edition. And it definitely doesn’t bring anyone into disrepute.

An excerpt from the second edition of “Blood Summit”

By way of introduction, here is the prologue of the new “Blood Summit”. Like thrillers? I hope you’ll enjoy this:


Two years earlier

Children played in the street outside her door. Turkish, Uli Wenger guessed from their dark skin and bright clothes. He walked around them. The first insect Uli ever killed had been a child. Today, he had more important business.

Dirt and spray paint decorated the surface of the door. Sixteen buzzers studded the wall. The target lived on the third floor. Uli pressed the button by her name.

The intercom crackled. ‘Yes?’

‘Post,’ Uli said. ‘A package.’

‘OK.’ The door popped open.

Cool dark air, and a smell of damp stone, streamed from the hallway to meet him. Two bicycles stood against a wall. Uli climbed the stairs. At the second floor, he took from his shoulder-bag a cardboard carton and a blue and yellow postman’s jacket. He trudged up the final flight and rang the bell.

This was the moment. If another door on the landing opened, Uli would walk back down the stairs. He counted the seconds. She stood behind the door. She looked at him through the spy-hole.

The door opened.

‘Hello, is that – ’

Uli Wenger barged into the apartment and wrapped his arm around the target’s face, crushing her nose and mouth. He reached for the knife at his belt. He had used it twice today already.

But unlike the men whose throats Uli had cut that morning, the woman did not struggle. She stood a head shorter than him, wiry and angular. He never relaxed his grip. Suddenly she dropped to the floor, a dead weight. He staggered. In that instant, she hooked one leg behind his and threw herself backwards.

Self-defence classes, Uli thought as he fell. It would make no difference. His head smashed into the bare floorboards. The woman landed on top of him. He lashed out with his free hand. His fist connected with her head, a solid, satisfying blow.

Uli jumped up. The woman scrambled to her feet and backed away. He edged towards her, senses alert. She would be dead in sixty seconds. Behind her, on a poster on the wall, a man in a tunic brandished a sword at an army of skeletons. The image meant nothing to Uli. He held his knife forward, ready to slash her throat. She must not scream. His fall had made too much noise already. The neighbours might be calling the police.

But the woman did not cry out. She lifted her hand to a drop of blood at the corner of her mouth. When she spoke, not fear but anger filled her voice.

‘What is this? Are you crazy?’

Panic pulsed through Uli. Could she know his history? His weakness? But that was impossible. Only Mouse had known, and she was dead. He hesitated, gripping the knife in his hand.

‘Leave me alone!’ An order. But then she made a mistake. ‘Please.’

The spell broke. Uli stepped forward. She tried to trip him again, but this time he was ready: when she reached out her foot, he grabbed her and threw her down. She gasped as she hit the floor. He fell on her, pressing his hand over her mouth and slamming the knife into the carotid triangle at the base of her neck. When he jerked the blade free, a torrent of blood rewarded him. For twenty seconds, he held her. Then he knelt, and cleaned the knife on her shirt.

The woman blinked.

‘Why?’ she whispered. ‘Why kill me?’

Uli did not know the answer. His employer had named today’s targets without giving a reason. The objective might be to test the efficiency with which Uli killed – or something else.

He shrugged. ‘Do you not know?’

Her eyes widened, but she could not speak.

‘I do not know either,’ Uli said. ‘And I do not care.’ He waited a few seconds longer, with his hand on her pulse. Then he rose and left the apartment.

[Excerpt ends]

Thrillers: what to do next

Do enjoy my thrillers: Blood Summit, Palladium and Eternal Life. The next one is on the way, too! No risk of bringing anyone into disrepute there, either.


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2 Responses

  1. I’m looking forward to reading a copy of Blood Summit I purchased on Amazon. I also found mention of it on Goodreads which seems to indicate you have done well without a traditional publisher. Regardless, it seems you will do well no matter what. All the Best!
    Larry B.

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