Playing with Death by Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis | Blog Tour Guest Post | Paperback Publication #PlayingwithDeath


Published by Headline (26 July 2018)

Available in ebook and paperback

464 pages


|   About the Book   |



The discovery of a horribly mutilated corpse launches FBI Agent Rose Blake into a puzzling investigation. The victim was alone at home with no signs of forced entry. Who – or what – burnt him to death?


Strips of rubber melted to the body emerge as evidence that the victim was wearing The Skin, an innovation that takes users deep into a virtual world.


When a body with identical wounds is discovered, Rose realises that in the darkest corners of the Dark Web, a brutal killer is playing a deadly game. A game with no rules – and no mercy. To stop it, Rose must play too…


GUEST POST by Simon Scarrow


One of the first things I am often asked about PLAYING WITH DEATH is why am I writing something so very different to my usual historical fiction? There are a few things I need to mention in answering this.

Firstly, the idea for PWD came to me some years before I started writing my first historical fiction. Originally the story was set in Britain and was written as a script for BBC radio. Nothing came of it at the time and the outline went into the ideas folder in my filing cabinet. Many years later, during one of the regular meetings with Lee and my writer brother Alex, I pulled the outline out and we talked it over and very quickly we all decided that the story was more relevant than ever, given the pace at which VR was developing. Alex was too busy to take on the project at the time so Lee and I developed it for a four season TV series. Very quickly a TV producer was on board but the industry is hard to break into and two years later we were no further down the road. So I suggested to Lee that we write the first episode up as a novel and get that published and then try and sell the screen rights off the back of that. My only concern was that my publisher might not be keen on me switching genres so I had my agent send the sample chapters in under an assumed name to a different editor. The feedback we got was that the editor had never read anything so frightening, so we knew we were on the right track and a two book deal followed swiftly.

Secondly, I think it is vital that authors try to extend their range as much as possible, partly because it is good for their writing, but also because the market they are writing in might well cease to be so lucrative in the future. Being prolific is the author’s only defence against financial hardship. Of course, it’s possible that PWD will be a mega-hit, and Lee and I will never have to worry about any lupine pest hovering at the door ever again.

Thirdly, I have grown increasingly concerned by the implications of computer technologies with respect to a whole range of social issues. Social media is a wonderful thing that is great for connecting people across the globe. The flip side of that is that it has never been easier to bully people or be rude to them, without any consequences. We just have to look at the savage exchanges that take place on social media over Brexit and Donald Trump to see just how much social media fuels political division. Then there is the matter of Fake News and the way in which the proliferation of opinion has eroded the authority of knowledge and now, more than ever, we live in an age where someone will argue that their mere opinion is of equal weight to a lifetime of research and technical expertise. And politicians play on this. So we end up in a world where verified truth is ‘Trumped’ by the velocity of distribution of social media narratives.

PWD tackles these issues, as will the subsequent books in the series, and that is the USP of these novels. VR has been tackled before, as has AI, but not nearly so appositely as in PWD. Lee and I hope the book is widely read and helps to encourage debate about the possible consequences of these two technologies, before it is too late…



|   Author Bio   |


Simon Scarrow

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. After a childhood spent travelling the world, he pursued his great love of history as a teacher, before becoming a full-time writer. His Roman soldier heroes Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 in UNDER THE EAGLE, and have subsequently appeared in many bestsellers in the Eagles of the Empire series, including CENTURION, INVICTUS and DAY OF THE CAESARS.

Simon Scarrow is also the author of a quartet of novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, YOUNG BLOODS, THE GENERALS, FIRE AND SWORD and THE FIELDS OF DEATH; a novel about the 1565 Siege of Malta, SWORD & SCIMITAR; HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War; and PLAYING WITH DEATH, a contemporary thriller written with Lee Francis. He also wrote the novels ARENA and INVADER with T. J. Andrews.

For exciting news, extracts and exclusive content from Simon visit, follow him on Twitter @SimonScarrow or like his author page on Facebook/OfficialSimonScarrow


Lee Francis

Lee Francis worked for several years in the world of film, TV and advertising as a script reader and assistant director on major productions such as Harry Potter, The Woman In Black and Spooks. He has a BA First Class in Film Studies. He enjoys travelling, running, gaming and listening to cheesy techno. He has travelled the USA, New Zealand, China and Europe.

PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with his former lecturer Simon Scarrow is his first novel. It is published in the UK by Headline and foreign sales around the world have already begun.

For exciting news, extracts and exclusive content from Lee visit, follow him on Twitter @leefrancis or like his author page on Facebook/leefrancisauthor



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