The Strange Case of Solomon Green

Added on 10 December 2008

A couple of days ago, before my mince pie packaging rant, I mentioned a couple of book ideas which I was jotting down to put to a literary agent. One of them would be kind of a big Ludlum-type thriller, and not really the kind of thing I do. It'd take a fair amount of research and a lot of writing, so I more than likely will never write it, unless some sage and sensible publisher offers me a large amount of money up front. The other one started life as a short story which I wrote about twelve years ago, concerning a man who turns into a bar of chocolate. While that story was never published - I'm not sure if I even sent it to anyone, as I have no idea if the market for short stories about grown men transmogrifying into large bars of chocolate actually exists - I've always liked the basic concept.

In developing the book outline in the last couple of days, I've started to get excited about it again. It'd be short and snappy, wouldn't take a tonne of research, and would take aim at some of the same targets as Lost in Juarez, so would be a decent follow-up to that book. In short, it is the kind of thing I'd publish myself, so I may write it next - once I get all the current Barney stuff done and dusted - regardless of whether or not any other publisher is interested in it.

My initial title, which I mentioned the other day, was The Strange Case of Solomon Kane. My mate wrote to me to point out that Solomon Kane was a thing, and that I'd get sued. I checked. Solomon Kane is a thing. An old fictional character, with the movie due in the spring... I had no idea. That's how close my finger is to the pulse of popular culture. I'm beginning to wonder if some of my other book ideas - The Strange Case of Jason Bourne, The Batman! and The Even Stranger Case of TinTin, might not also be at risk of copyright infringement.

I've changed it to Solomon Green. Here's the outline of what may, or may not, be the next non-Barney Thomson title from Long Midnight Publishing:

The Strange Case of Solomon Green

The story begins with the political machinations of a member of the British government, Solomon Green, a minister at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Although holding junior office, he is one of the major players in the government, using his obscure government status to manipulate foreign policy from under the radar.

Working closely with the PM and the Foreign Secretary, Green instigates a war in Côte d'Ivoire, the world’s primary cocoa producer. The war spreads to the other major cocoa producers in the area, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. The 24-hour news channels of the West are soon filled with tales from the Chocolate Wars, almost treating them as something of a joke. Certainly there is far more interest on the effect this will have on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Terry’s Chocolate Orange, than on the people of the affected countries.

Like so many wars of the Third World before them, they are a product of aggressive Western business practices. Solomon Green is at the forefront of the battle, playing local sides off against one another in support of the British government’s financial and colonialist agenda.

People are dying, children are being forced to fight, fledgling democracies are being sacrificed to the greed of big business, the price of cocoa is rising; it is all going to plan. And in the midst of it all Solomon Green works in the shadows, controlling the fate of the war.

After a trip to West Africa, Green falls ill. Curious symptoms. Sluggishness, allied to the appearance of strange brown marks on his body, marks which slowly start to grow. At first doctors are stumped for an answer, however a Harley Street specialist has a diagnosis. He tells Green that he is turning into a giant bar of chocolate.

The analytical, sophisticated, business brain of Solomon Green cannot comprehend this notion. Everyone else, including the doctor, seems to take it for granted. As Green deteriorates, his skin more and more turning into the texture of milk chocolate, all those around him treat him with slight annoyance, as if it’s his own fault; all his doctor can suggest is to stay out of the sun and not to sit too close to the radiator.

A fellow member of the government nicks a piece off Green’s shoulder to eat with his tea at the next Cabinet meeting. People are beginning to talk. And, as his brain begins to grind to a dreadful, sludgy, chocolaty halt, Solomon Green realises that if he is to escape from this milk chocolate prison, he is going to have to get back on a plane to West Africa to face the consequences of his actions. He just has to make sure he stays in an air-conditioned room once he gets there.