Interviewing Tony Kent about No Way To Die

Every time I read a fellow blogger’s review of a Tony Kent book they are all so positive that I know I’m really missing out as I haven’t had chance to read him for myself yet. As a result I decided it was time to ask Tony to stay in with me and tell me about his latest book himself. I’m thrilled he agreed to come along.

Staying in with Tony Kent

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Tony and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

No, thank you. Because while you’re staying in, for me this is OUT! Which I realise is quite pathetic, but our three-year old son Joseph is at that ‘look at me all night, I’m hilarious stage’. Which is nowhere near as entertaining as he thinks it is. So usually, I’m hiding upstairs in my office, writing or working on legal papers. Which makes THIS a big night! Now where are those cocktails!?!

We’ll get to the cocktails later, but before then tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve chosen to bring along my latest thriller, No Way To Die, which is coming out in paperback next week; much cheaper than the hardback was so I can just about afford to bring a copy for us both!

I love a paperback! So tell me a bit more about No Way To Die.

No Way To Die is the fourth book in a series which – as a big Marvel and DC fan – I’ve shamelessly started to call ‘The Killer Intent Universe’ (my first book of course being Killer Intent).

The reason for this admittedly grandiose title is because, unlike Jack Reacher or Rebus or any of those series, not every book I write includes all of my main characters. But at the same time they are not complete standalones like, say, John Grisham. And nor are they a collection of separate, unconnected series as David Baldacci tends to do. Instead, I write about four or five main characters (the number keeps growing as I fall in love with new ones and can’t resist bringing them back…) who are all either closely or tangentially connected to one another. They share the same world. They share the same friends, mostly. But they don’t necessarily all share the same adventures. So, like when The Avengers go off on their own to be Thor or to be The Hulk, my characters can have a Dempsey book, a Devlin book, a Dempsey/Devlin book and so on. So you see…a universe!!

That sounds a brilliant concept. Who will we find in No Way To Die?

No Way To Die, then, is a Dempsey book through and through. With a nice sprinkling of Eden Grace – the Secret Service agent introduced in my last book, Power Play – on top. I wrote it during the pandemic when we were all in the strictest phase of the lockdown and it was a late replacement for the book I was supposed to be writing which was – believe it or not – a book about a weaponised virus being used to start a lethal pandemic in the United States! I decided against finishing that one, for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain.

Crikey. That’s quite understandable!

But I had a deadline and so I threw myself headlong into No Way To Die. And I have to say, I really feel that that urgency shows up on the page. It’s my fastest paced, most edge-of-your-seat book and I really feel I have my impending deadline to thank for making me put that pressure on the page.

No prevarication in writing No Way To Die then! How would you describe it?

Like all my books, No Way To Die is a twisty, emotional rollercoaster of an action thriller that features strong, realistic characters – both men and women – navigating a scary world. The action jumps between the good guys – Joe Dempsey and Eden Grace from the UN’s International Security Bureau, Special Agent Bambi O’Rourke from Homeland Security and Agent Nicki May from the Department of Justice – and the bad guys as they make their way up the east coast of America over the course of two days, with the bad guys always one step ahead and one step away from causing mass destruction.

That sounds really exciting. How has it been received so far?

The reviews have been great for this one, which I’m much happier about than I should probably admit. The Sunday Times called it a ‘pulsating action thriller’ and picked it as one of the Thrillers of the Month at the time of the hardback release, and the praise from some fellow writers has been humbling. Neil Lancaster – author of Dead Man’s Grave and The Blood Tide called it ‘an absolute belter of a book. Dempsey reminds me of an amalgam of 007 and OrphanX. A blistering, two-fisted thriller you won’t want to put down until you’re done’, Rob Parker – author of The Watchman and Far From The Tree said it was ‘a staggeringly enjoyable thriller… Astonishingly good – to the point of being utterly unmissable’ and even Adam Hamdy – author of Black 13 and Red Wolves – called it ‘a top-notch, edge of the seat thriller’. I know the reviews shouldn’t mean as much as they do, but I can’t help it; authors live in their heads when writing these books and it’s sometimes hard to keep perspective of what’s working and what isn’t. So great feedback is very, very important to us!

That’s quite an endorsement Tony. You should be delighted. 

What else can we expect from an evening in with Tony Kent?

The honest answer is almost certainly a sleeping house-guest! For me writing not my main job. I am actually a barrister specialising in criminal defence and my practice is focused very much on the ‘extremely serious’ end of the criminal spectrum; think murder, organised crime, seven-figure frauds, that sort of thing. It’s very much a full-time job and then some; the hours are extreme, so writing plays second fiddle a bit in terms of the time I can dedicate to it. That said, I produce a book a year at an average length of 120,000 to 130,000 words, so it isn’t that I don’t spend a lot of time at my desk, putting Dempsey and Devlin and co. through their paces. Add the two jobs together, then, and then throw in my young son Joseph and you’ve got a man who isn’t getting nearly enough sleep!

Good grief. If you just need to lie down for a bit I fully understand.

That answer won’t get me an invite back, however, so I’m going to give you the non-sleepy Tony version. And the answer from that guy – if I can remember him – is a proper dining experience! I absolutely love to cook and I make a pretty special array of cocktails, so your evening with Tony Kent will involve…let’s see…seared scallops with crumbled black pudding and caviar with a minted pea puree, followed by a personalised beef wellington with horseradish mash potatoes, steamed and sautéed tenderstem broccoli and – just to sound mega middle-class and alienate everyone from the council estate I grew up on – a good red wine jus. Then we’d finish with frozen berries and white chocolate sauce. And of course, a good wine selection for each course, with the whole thing washed down by margaritas and – for me – an ice cold vespa martini.

And having now promised all that, I’m suddenly starving!

Me too. But if that’s what you’re offering Tony, you can come again! What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I have bought along my compilation video of Muhammed Ali’s greatest ‘hits’, because it’s 1988 and you will obviously have a VHS in the house.

Funnily enough I do!

I spent much of my youth obsessively trying to be Muhammed Ali, the greatest heavyweight boxer – and one of the best men – to ever live. I credit boxing (and of course my parents) with having kept me on the straight and narrow in the rough world in which I grew up. Many of the people I knew from my early childhood went the wrong way in life, and that misdirection began when they were hanging around the streets at night, picking fights and committing petty crime.

While they were doing that, I spent my nights in the local boxing club, learning how to fight properly and dedicating myself to a sport that, for a long time, I hoped would be my life. My biggest hero then was Ali and my biggest hero now is the same guy. Of course I discovered as I grew that for all the dedication and hard work and obsession – and I had them all – there is only so far you can go without God-given talent. And I didn’t have it. I was better than most – I won most of my fights and I picked up titles and championships here and there, paced mainly on pure determination, an unnaturally hard head and a very big right hand – but I was never making it to the world title. But that didn’t matter. Boxing made me the man I am; it gave me the opportunities in life that led me to where I am today. It made me think that, like Ali proved, anything was possible.

Wow. You’ve had an interesting life and come a long way from boxer to writer.

It also helps me write a hell of a fight scene, but that’s another matter entirely!

And so it’s the Ali compilation for us, I’m afraid. And a long old lecture about what made him ‘The Greatest’!!

You’re actually preaching to the converted here Tony. I was a little bit in love with Ali and reference to him always makes me think of my much missed Dad as we’d watch his fights together.

Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about No Way To Die Tony. I really must catch up with the whole The Killer Intent Universe. Now, I think you mentioned cocktails. You get mixing and I’ll give Linda’s Book Bag readers a few more details: 

No Way to Die

A deadly threat. A ghost from the past. And time is running out…

When traces of a radioactive material are found alongside a body in Key West, multiple federal agencies suddenly descend on the crime scene. This is not just an isolated murder: a domestic terrorist group is ready to bring the US government to its knees.

The threat hits close to home for Agent Joe Dempsey when he discovers a personal connection to the group. With his new team member, former Secret Service agent Eden Grace, Dempsey joins the race to track down the terrorists’ bomb before it’s too late. But when their mission falls apart, he is forced to turn to the most unlikely of allies: an old enemy he thought he had buried in his past.

Now, with time running out, they must find a way to work together to stop a madman from unleashing horrifying destruction across the country.

Already available in other formats, No Way To Die is published by Elliott and Thompson in paperback on 14th April and is available for purchase through the links here.

About Tony Kent

Tony Kent is a practising criminal barrister who draws on his legal experience to bring a striking authenticity to his thrillers: Killer Intent, Marked for Death, Power Play and now No Way To Die.

Ranked as a ‘leader in his field’ Tony has prosecuted and defended in the most serious trials during his twenty years at the Criminal Bar – specialising in murder, terrorism, corruption, kidnap and organised crime. His case history is filled with nationally reported trials and his practice has brought him into close professional contact with GCHQ, the Security Service and the Ministry of Defence. He has also defended in matters with an international element, involving agencies such as the FBI.

Tony also appears as a criminal justice expert on a number of TV shows, including Meet, Marry, Murder (on Prime and coming soon to Netflix), My Lover, My Killer (Netflix) and Kill Thy Neighbour (Channel 5). April will see the launch of a True Crime podcast with Tony and author and former police officer, Neil Lancaster – examining crime and criminal justice from the perspective of a defence barrister and a cop.

Prior to his legal career Tony represented England as a heavyweight boxer and won a host of national amateur titles.

He lives just outside of London with his wife, young son and dog.

For further information, visit Tony’s website, follow him on Twitter @TonyKent_Writes and find him on Instagram and Facebook.

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