Bradby, Tom 1967-
BRADBY, Tom 1967-
Born 1967, in Malta; married; children: three; Education: Attended Sherborne School and Edinburgh University.
Office—Independent Television News, 200 Gray's Inn Rd., London WC1X 8XZ, England.
Journalist and television correspondent. Independent Television News, London, England, editorial trainee, 1990-92, producer, 1992-93, Ireland correspondent, 1993-96, political correspondent, 1996-98, Asia correspondent, 1998-2001, Royal correspondent, 2001-03, UK editor, 2003—.
Shadow Dancer, Bantam (London, England), 1998.
The Sleep of the Dead, Bantam (London, England), 2001.
The Master of the Rain, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2002.
The White Russian, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2003.
The God of Chaos, Bantam (London, England), 2004.
Tom Bradby covers domestic news for Great Britain's Independent Television News (ITN). His other positions at ITN have included serving as a correspondent covering the royal family, and as Asia correspondent from 1999-2001, during which time he was seriously injured in Jakarata, Indonesia, in a political riot. Bradby was an Ireland correspondent during the development of the peace process and Irish Republican Army (IRA) cease-fire. He has also covered events in China and Kosovo.
While living in Hong Kong, Bradby researched records of 1920s Shanghai and wrote his book The Master of the Rain. Other sources included records from London's Imperial War Museum archives and memoirs of British Special Branch officers working in Shanghai. With this research he wrote a mystery set in 1926 Shanghai, though Brian Bennett noted in Time International that "Bradby doesn't bore us by showing off all that historical research. Instead, he weaves together a vivid portrait of the times and a ripping good crime tale as he slowly unravels the characters' hidden secrets (and they all have them)." Englishman Richard Field arrives in Shanghai to escape his life and to work for the special branch of the international police force, which keeps the city in order and communism at bay. His first job, with his American partner, Caprisi, is to investigate the murder of a Russian prostitute who worked for Pockmark Lu, the most powerful man in the city in both politics and crime. Field questions the victim's neighbor and fellow Russian aristocrat, Natasha Medvedev, who also is connected to Lu. Field finds other cases of murdered Russian women, and thinks Medvedev may be the next victim. He is drawn to her, even though she is uncooperative and mysterious, and others warn him not to trust her. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly maintained that the historical base of the novel is overshadowed "by the more modern focus on frenzied sex and death. Likewise, the obvious film noir look the author goes for is undermined by the late twentieth-century serial-killer shtick he injects in the plot."
Shanghai is full of foreigners working within and outside of the city's corrupt systems to make money and serve their own agenda. Although Field's uncle is a local government official who can sometimes be of assistance, this complex web of people and interests creates many roadblocks in his investigation, especially because the police care more about capturing Lu than solving the murder of the Russian women. Determined to stay honest, he learns the police are corrupt, and eventually feels he cannot completely trust anyone. Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times, "The best of Mr. Bradby's suspense comes from a good-versus-evil struggle for ultimate authority. And his most clear-eyed writing is reserved for this side of the story."
Another murder mystery, The White Russian, begins in January, 1917, in St. Petersburg with the Bolshevik Revolution looming. As a contributor to Publishers Weekly pointed out, Bradby demonstrates the "urban lawlessness, food shortages, unrest, and Imperial decadence that characterize the period." Chief Investigator Sanrdo Ruzsky, recently returned from exile in Siberia for the death of a secret police informant, investigates the murder of a man and a woman found on the ice of the Neva River near the tsar's Winter Palace. The woman worked as a nanny for the royal family, confirming that the crime is political, and Ruzsky wants to know why she was fired from imperial service. The victims seem to be Yalta revolutionaries, but Ruzsky wonders if they were double agents for the tsar's secret police, who hinder his investigation. Ruzsky continues his inquiries even after he is dismissed from the case.
In addition to the investigation, Ruzsky's relationship with his family is uneasy. His father blames Ruzsky for his brother's drowning and Ruzsky's wife left him in Siberia, where he lives with family that includes his surviving brother, Dmitri, and his sister-in-law. He finds his personal life becoming interwoven with the investigation in surprising ways. A Kirkus Reviews contributor felt that Bradby effectively connects all the components of the story, including the upcoming revolution, Ruzsky's personal life, and the royal family's politics, and "sustaining interest literally down to the last line." "This one really isn't over till it's over," the critic added, "not till Bradby types The End."
Bradby told CA: "I was an only child and spent many hours as a boy creating elaborate imaginary worlds with which to entertain myself. As a result perhaps, when I want to relax and switch off now, I am still happier spending time in a world I have created myself than one realized by others. Given the choice, I'd rather write than read a book or watch television.
"As a history student, I was fascinated with the idea of people living ordinary lives in extraordinary times. I recall reading about the Russian and French revolutions and trying to imagine people getting on with everyday life as the world around them disintegrated. I find the notion of researching a period of history and then trying to mentally 'live' it for a year or two completely intriguing and uniquely satisfying.
"I wish I had a [writing] process. I am aware that the main challenge I face with each book now is what my agent calls the 'mesh,' by which he means the process of weaving together the history going on in the background, the plot and the personal dramas of the novel's lead characters into one satisfying whole. However, each novel seems to present a completely different set of challenges.
"To write something okay isn't that difficult. To try and turn it into something (hopefully) quite compelling requires a huge amount of effort, and almost limitless capacity to go over scenes again and again and, above all, an ability to accept criticism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 5; March 1, 2003, review of The White Russian, p. 327.
Library Journal, April 15, 2002, Barbara Hoffert, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 123; April 1, 2003, Ann Forister, review of The White Russian, p. 126.
New Statesman, April 1, 2002, Alex Gibbons, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 54.
People, June 17, 2002, Allen Salkin, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2002, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 49; April 28, 2003, review of The White Russian.
Spectator, April 13, 2002, Charles Mitchell, review of The Master of the Rain, pp. 55-56.
Time International, February 25, 2002, Brian Bennett, review of The Master of the Rain, p. 49.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 23, 2003), Sam Harrison, review of The Master of the Rain.
Book Reporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October 23, 1999), Joe Hartlaub, review of The Master of the Rain; (October 23, 2003), Kate Ayers, review of The White Russian.
Crime Time,http://www.crimetime.co.uk/ (October 23, 2003), Ingrid Yornstrand, review of The Master of the Rain.
Independent Television News Online,http://www.itn.co.uk/ (February 15, 2004).
Mostly Fiction,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (October 23, 2003), Cindy Lynn Speer, review of The Master of the Rain.
New York Times Online,http://query.nytimes.com/ (October 21, 2003), Janet Maslin, review of The Master of the Rain.
Shots Magazine Online,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (October 23, 2003), Russell James, review of The Master of the Rain.