XHUTEQ'S LABYRINTH BOOK I: Thread of Life

An alarming and insidious tale of murder most foul. A tragedy. It relates those killings which have come to be known as The Avon Murders as well as Warwickshire County constabulary in their investigation. In particular, we bear witness to the endeavours of Officer Denise Chaldbury and Chief Constable Alexander Trapp who show great spirit. There is also the astonishing exploits of Butcher Bill portrayed in most unforgiving terms, the global media attention thus induced and Darren Greene's banishment henceforth pertaining to the detestable violence, abuse and horrors which therein occurred. Unsuitable for the young or those possessed of gentle spirit. This tale has been approved for public consumption by the Master of Revels.


 

"The evil that men do lives after them..." - Julius Caesar, III.II

Shakespeare's plays are being recreated in the Midland town of Stratford-upon-Avon, only the stars of these performances never leave the stage alive. Who and why these atrocities are occurring weaves a tangled web of distinct personalities, each with their own riddle to solve. A relentless modern thriller Thread of Life is sure to engage both veteran Shakespeare-enthusiast and newcomer alike as it guides the reader through a murky underworld of sexuality, forbidden knowledge and direst cruelty.

 

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READ THE THRILLING PROLOGUE HERE!

.PDF (Mac) .DOC (Windows)

 

WARNING: This novel contains scenes of a graphic nature and reader discretion is advised.

 



 

 

Holla! (Othello I.II / Hamlet I.I - I'm serious, check it out)

                                                                                                                                                                              


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Hi, I'm Humphrey Bartosik, freelance author and gallivanting swashbuckler extraordinaire. I grew up in London, England but I am currently working in Lagos, Nigeria as creative director for a cool printing company called Sarras Production. I'm also the founder of .44 CALIBRE SHAKESPEARE which specializes in publishing editions of Shakespeare and other material which is more accessible to a modern audience. This will be my first Kindle release and I am really looking forward to seeing how people will react. Some pretty twisted stuff goes down in the story and I for one have been left feeling upset, scared and confused... by my own work that is! I guess sometimes not even the author knows where their own story will lead them. Sometimes that can turn out to be a very dark place. So whether you love it or hate it I will be pleased to see if it has made a strong impression.

 

Happy New Year! Too bad for the Mayans, I think it would have been worth the end of the world just to see all those hyper-critical cynical smartasses eat their hats. I'm not exactly a believer myself but when I found out the whole 'end of the world' spin was just some lame conspiracy The System is trying to brainwash us with (to make us disrespect spirituality more than we already do) I was kinda pissed. They were Mayans bro... Mayans be cool. You aint built no pryamids, have you? Exactly. So just chill. If they say it's high-time for a worldwide spiritual ascension, well, I thoroughly agree.

          H

 

 

 

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“Our thoughts are ours, their ends, none of our own...” King Player - Hamlet, III.II

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 To be perfectly honest, I have a love/hate relationship with the book. Sometimes I'm so sure it's a wonder and other days I wonder how I could be so depraved to breath life into such dark matter. I'm not proud of it, what happens to certain members of the cast. It's not nice. At all. This is my first fiction and I gotta say I'm pretty surprised how RAW it came out. But if I must confess to a sin, I confess only to giving the people what they want.

 

I think I was so sick and tired of people telling stories with violence in them just for kicks, as though that stuff's cool or something (which, sometimes I admit it kinda totally is). Nay, I wanted to give the reader something which penetrated the it's only a story boundary and pierced the heart of the audience, something truly awful and unsettling. I wanted to punish the modern reader, you know? Sort of so you want blood and guts do you? Well be careful what you wish for... kind of a thing. Haha, probably not the best way for me to sell it but I don't want anybody to be under any illusions about how tough it gets. That's precisely the kind of accident I want to guard against. Never thought I would feel so strongly about censorship but here we are. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

 

It's funny because I am always the first person to criticise something I might watch on the television or see in a magazine for being materialist tripe, corrupting souls and poisoning minds... ...undermining families and destroying relationships... ...turning our girls into sex dolls and our boys into wannabe gangsters. Bastards! I'll stop you one day! I'll stop you all! (kidding)

 

Yet who am I to judge? Look at Thread of Life! It's flipping brutal! Now that I've spent over a year going back to it again and again, refining it, polishing it, getting other people to read it (see Acknowledgements) and using their blow-by-blow accounts to step my game up and revise the whole darn thing again and again... well, let's just say I started writing it in Sep 2011 and now it's Jan 2013 so... how could I NOT publish it now? My ego compels me. On Kindle, it's all too easy. The story has taken a hold of me, it fights me, it demands to be released, untethered, let slip. I've known for some time I would have to let it out of the cage. God forgive me for this ravenous creature I'm releasing into the shadows of Amazon cyberspace...

   H

 

My Experience Writing Thread of Life

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  I was born and raised in London, son of a stock-broker (dad) and a chef (mum). I have a great relationship with my friends and family and many a happy hour is merrily spent in their company when I'm not working abroad, which at the moment is most of the year. I suppose it was in part a longing to see the stoney shores of the Sceptr'd Isle once again during my time abroad that has driven me to write Thread of Life and sustained my commitment to it. When us expats spend time in places like Africa or other developing parts of the world, it's not unusual to discover a new-found appreciation for the luxuries the average Westerner enjoys on a daily basis eg. steady supply of electricity... “Dey tek da LIGHT!” That's not to say I don't immerse myself in the local environment willingly, in fact I can confidently say I see a good deal more of Nigeria than most 'oyinbos' (white men) but you would have to be a fool not to be struck by how tough life is here for the common man - or woman or child or even the blind or physically impaired for that matter – out on the street. Suddenly old Gaunt's speech resonates with a truth that is easy to forget when our politicians say astonishingly silly things and rioters burn family run shops to the ground; the United Kingdom is probably the best country in the world. My dad always used to say this quote from Cecil Rhodes “You've come first place in the lottery of life, my son, you were born an Englishman!”

 

Although I lived all over London growing up – constantly on the move, still am – a lot of the inspiration for the book came from my time at my grandma's in North Yorkshire. When I longed for England, I found myself longing for her place strangely enough. She lives in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere (rolling green fields filled with sheep out the window) and I've always felt closer to history there, closer to what remnants of truly English culture still remain. In places like that, like all those castles in The Dales or even the city of York itself, history is always just out of reach and yet on the tips of our fingers at the same time.

 

Anyway, I wanted to tell a big story about England, a brutal murder/mystery thriller with a splash of history and plenty of cliff-hangers, action sequences and more twists than a Flamenco dancer with her dress on fire. And yet, methought... why try and deny what England has become? Aren't we English rather more British than English now? Hasn't the planet been shrinking and the times been a-changing? How to bridge the world between the old and the new? How to tell a story that had both smartphones and scrolls sealed with wax in the same tale? That has the military campaign in Afghanistan side by side with The Wars of The Roses? Of course, the answer is the same answer to every form of the question 'how do we know that everyone is the basically same, from wherever or whenever they are?' The answer is Shakespeare for no other single fragment of human endeavour so clearly and brilliantly and utterly proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are all, essentially, the same and – if we had any damn sense - we should put our troubles aside and just get the f*** along. Sadly, I think that day is quite some distance away but I suppose we could get there in the end, it's plausible...

 

Until then, it's open season on adult fiction and no horror is too grotesque for the roaring bloodthirsty crowd of the coliseum! I am a willing gladiator and hold my slavish characters ready for execution or pardon by your mortal judgement.

   H

 

 

Back in the day when things were cool...

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This cool Shakespeare £20 note was in circulation from 1971 - 1993. I wish they would bring it back, maybe with a scene from a different play than Romeo & Juliet this time - but who and when? Is it Henry V on St. Crispin's day? Or Prospero telling Miranda a bedtime story? Or Falstaff getting wasted at The Boar's Head? What would you like to see?

 

 

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threadoflife@44calibreshakespeare.com