ONEWORLD, the two-time winner of the Man Booker prize,
will publish the series in its Point Blank imprint.
DAMNATION, the first thriller with Tom Winter, will be published in spring 2018.
First draft of cover. What do you think?
The first thriller with the laconic Tom Winter
A charred Arab. Dead clients are bad for the bank. In life, he was invested globally in critical infrastructures. His death causes the blood pressure to rise, not only in oh-so pretty Switzerland. Tom Winter, the Swiss bank’s head of security, and the mysterious Fatima follow the money trail. It takes them through Switzerland, to Cairo, Bergen, Boston and back to the Bernese Oberland.
Watched by the NSA, they uncover explosive material and speculation. And suddenly go from being the hunters to the hunted. Taciturn and laconic, the former special forces commander Winter fights his way through the jungle of intrigue with dry humor. A breath-taking international thriller with high stakes, shifting ground, some erotic adventures and a fascinating new hero.
The first thriller with Tom Winter, 480 pages
Originally published in German by Emons Verlag (2013)
Scheduled to be be published in English by ONEWORLD (2018)
Read the first chapters here
Learn about the locations
Peter Beck studied Psychology and Economics in Bern, Switzerland, where he also gained a doctorate. He went on to do an MBA at Manchester Business School, UK, and has a black belt in judo, was an executive board member of a large Swiss company and sat on several non-executive boards.
Today Peter Beck is his own boss and supports businesses and organizations in shaping their corporate culture. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the German-speaking crime writers' association, Syndikat.
The people behind the Tom Winter thriller series in English:
Tanja Howarth Literary Agency
19 New Row
London WC2N 4LA
+44 (0)20 7240 5553
10 Bloomsbury Street
WC1B 3SR London
An interview with Peter Beck
about his fast-paced thriller featuring Tom Winter
In Switzerland, the Bernese are known for being slow. How did you as a born-and-bred Bernese manage to write such a fast-paced thriller?
I write what I like reading myself. I’ve been reading thrillers in English for years – mainly in the bath. Good entertainment just needs speed and a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. The readers should get bloody fingernails.
Good entertainment also needs a cool hero. Tom Winter is head of security at a Swiss private bank. So there’s lots of material! And there are great villains in the banking world. Behind the picture-perfect scenes, they do business brutally.
Why does the thriller take place in Cairo, Boston and Bergen?
I’ve been to these places, which is good for getting the ambiance right. Why Egypt? I wanted there to be sparks flying. Winter meets the mysterious Fatima in Cairo and there’s a chemistry between them. And Boston is a great city. Wall Street in New York would have been too crude. Söldner des Geldes is a breathtaking hunt through the global finance jungle. The money moves fast and doesn’t respect national borders or laws.
A fair bit of Damnation takes place in Switzerland: the cities of Berne and Zurich, the Alpine foothills in Central Switzerland, the Lavaux vineyards above Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains. Being Bernese, I set the finale in the beautiful and spectacular Alpine landscape of the Bernese Oberland.
How did you create the character of Tom Winter?
It was a long evolution. The character came to life almost like a claymation figure. I wanted a new kind of hero, not just another police inspector or private detective. He had to be both Swiss and cosmopolitan. And I think the name Winter suits a Swiss character and works well in both German and English. I also wanted Tom Winter to have a lot of freedom in his job, so I could send him all over the world. That’s fun. He’s almost as free as Jack Reacher (the hero in Lee Child’s books).
What was also really important was that Winter had strong values. He does the right thing and is a man of considered action. Before he acts, he observes carefully and listens well. It says a lot about a person, in real life too, if they listen well.
Tom Winter was born only after I’d sculpted the claymation figure again and again: he’s strong, doesn’t say much, has a dry sense of humour and secretly longs for intimacy and peace. Feedback shows that readers identify with Tom Winter.
Is Tom Winter based on a real person?
No, he’s a creation. But Tom Winter isn’t a glorified hero, he’s a regular guy with a past. And sometimes even he doesn’t know what to do.
Is there anything of yourself in Tom Winter?
Not really. Well, there are two things. The sportiness, for sure. I used to do judo and got the first black belt. And then there are the power struggles he has to contend with in the bank. I’ve been working in the corporate world for a long time, was an executive board member of a big Swiss company and sat on several non-executive boards. I’ve come across managers who ….. let’s just say that their ethical standards would be judged to be below average by the general population.
As for the rest, I’m not sure. You’d have to ask my girlfriend. I guess my sub-conscious has contributed somehow. I’ve got a PhD in Psychology but I’ve never worked in clinical psychology.
You’re a businessman and a social psychologist, so what made you write thrillers?
I’ve been reading detective stories since childhood, graduating on to thrillers. After a long day or when I’m on holiday, I just want to switch off. And every now and then, I thought ‘I could do that!’
In the early days of being self-employed, before I had as many mandates as I do now, it seemed like the right time. I just had to do it. And now it’s a great feeling to hold a copy of Damnation in my hands.
What research did you do for the book?
I’d already visited most of the locations, which helped with the atmospheric descriptions. I used the internet to research some details, like Tom Winter’s weapon.
My judo experience of close combat came in handy. And I’m still dealing with office in-fighting in my work as a corporate-culture consultant.
Which authors do you read yourself?
My all-time favourite author is John le Carré. He lived in Berne for a year, by the way, and there are even scenes set in parts of the city in some of his books. Of course, I’ve read most of the usual suspects, too: Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Mark Gimenez and Stuart MacBride. I also find inspiration in the Scandinavian authors, e.g. Stig Larsson, Jo Nesbo and Adler Olsen.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Well, about a third of my time I’m asleep, but frustratingly I rarely remember my dreams! Seriously, I help companies and organisations improve their corporate culture. If the culture’s right, people will work happily, well and productively. A good boss needs to manage both costs and atmosphere. I’m fortunate enough to be my own boss.
When I have time, I do sport or I read. And every year I try to go on a trip somewhere new. Last year we went to the Azores – you sleep on volcanoes there.
The book begins with a charred Arab. Isn’t that a bit racist?
No, I try to write in all shades, without prejudice. All extremism is horrific.
Will there be a sequel? A second Tom Winter thriller?
Yes. Korrosion is already out in German (Emons, 2017).
The second thriller with the laconic Tom Winter
A caramelised baker. A lonely old woman, beaten to death at Christmas finished off with a needle through an eye. The suspect, a Sudanese refugee, gone into hiding.
The dead widow not only leaves behind a million-dollar inheritance, but also a bitter accusation: from beyond the grave, she claims that one of her children killed her husband.
Tom Winter, the laconic head of security of her Swiss private bank, tracks down the children in the Azores, Manchester and Nuremberg, and finds himself entangled in a horrifying net of abuse, exploitation and revenge.
The second thriller with Tom Winter, 352 pages
Published in German by Emons Verlag (2017)
To be published by ONEWORLD in English
Peter Beck about KORROSION
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A sleepless night, breathless hours of entertainment, an intercontinental flight gone by fast, being engrossed in the corrosive effects of abuse, exploitation and revenge, be it on the victims or on the witnesses. A Nuba warrior is one of the key characters in KORROSION. He travels from his native village in Sudan to Europe, sacrificing a lot. Maybe the memory of Obado’s journey gives some insight into what’s going on with migration.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
Tom Winter, the series hero, is head of security at a discreet Swiss bank. This is a unique role in the thriller genre with many opportunities for plot development. For example, the bank has clients all over the world, which means that Tom Winter travels a lot, giving the series an international perspective. In KORROSION he travels to the Azores, to Nuremberg where the Nazi trials took place, and to gritty Manchester in England.
As Tom Winter is not the usual police inspector or private eye, he has much more freedom to set the world to rights. And he has a dilemma: Do the right thing or help the bank maximize its profits? We all face that quandary at one time or another, albeit usually on a smaller scale.
Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
Two things. When I researched migration, I became much more aware of the many tragic individual fates hidden behind the numbers. You could write a book about each one of those journeys. In the media, we mostly hear some anonymous numbers – and then most of us shut them out immediately, after all we’re busy and have enough to worry about.
The second thing is more about the writing process. I noticed it when I was editing KORROSION. I cut everything with only a hint of being boring or redundant, be it an unnecessary word, a sentence or whole chapters. Encouraged by my editors, I killed more than a quarter of my initial draft. That was really hard.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy ?
Don’t trust your prejudices. All of us have instincts. They’ve helped us to survive for a long time, to react instinctively in the jungle. In today’s fast-paced Facebook and Twitter world, I feel that we should more often take a step back and think before we judge.
In KORROSION I tried to use the readers’ prejudices to send them down several wrong alleys. So, don’t let yourself be fooled!
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Tartan Noir by Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and Stuart McBride. Or Tana French from Ireland. I’m also a fan of Scandi Noir, be it Stig Larsson, Adler Olsen or Jo Nesbø. I guess, coming from Switzerland, I easily identify with the often overwhelming power of nature in these countries, e.g. the finale of KORROSION takes place in the icy mountains around Lucerne.
I also love Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. Like Tom Winter, Reacher roams freely, but finds himself in situations where he must intervene. As a reader, I’m really addicted to series. For me, it’s essential to understand why I let myself get sucked in by them so much.
As a youngster, I devoured Simenon’s Commissaire Maigret series, fascinated by how Maigret dissected his suspects psychologically. More recently, I read all the Bernie Gunther novels by Philip Kerr, who very cleverly connects the world’s turmoil with Gunther’s destiny. And his outrageous metaphors make me smile.
The Big Thrill interview: "Don’t trust your prejudices."
1st Tom Winter thriller
2nd Tom Winter thriller
3rd Tom Winter thriller