Paul Fraser Collard: The Scarlet Thief

Who is Paul Fraser Collard


My love of history started in my childhood. As a child of the seventies I was brought up on a diet of Warlord and Commando comics whilst watching films like A Bridge too FarThe Longest Day and Zulu. At that time it was natural to play soldiers, either running around with my friends using nothing more dangerous than an armed finger, or playing with hundreds of small plastic men who had been fixed into a thousand different martial poses, all to inspire me to recreate the battles that I watched on TV.

As I got older I discovered the novels by Bernard Cornwell and I still remember the delight of reading Sharpe’s Enemy for the very first time (it is still my favourite novel to this day). That Christmas my parents bought me the entire backlist of Sharpe novels and they still sit in pride of place on my bookshelves although their covers show the battering of being read and reread over the years.

At no time did I ever consider writing myself. At school my love of all things military led me to apply for an Army Sixth Form Scholarship, an award that would lead to a place at Sandhurst, and, with luck and a vast amount of hard work and determination, a commission as an officer in the British army.

But when I came to leave school my mind changed. I had met my future wife and suddenly the draw of being an officer paled against the attraction of making a life with the woman I loved. So I left my childhood dream behind and embarked on a career in the City of London, a choice of job, that back then, did not carry the same stigma that it has acquired over the last few years.

All went well and I still work in the City today. I have learnt much over the years and without a shred of doubt I have been lucky to survive so long. I have also been fortunate to work with the same wonderful team for the last fifteen years which has made the daily grind so much more enjoyable than it should be.

It was only as I turned thirty that I started to consider writing for the first time. By then I had been commuting into London for years and the long train journey had been spent reading everything from Flashman to legal thrillers from the likes of Mark Gimenez and John Grisham.

I never thought of training myself to write. I just did it, bashing out a book without a single iota of planning. Since then I have written pretty much every day, never once stopping to analyse what I am doing, or how I am doing it. I just go for it.

I write what I like, about a subject that I am passionate about and which still interests me no matter how much I read and research the period. It would be easy to read the brilliant stories already set in the period and be deterred from daring to tread on the same turf but at the end of the day I cannot be swayed from the period that interests me the most. I simply do the best I can.

Paul Fraser Collard  – Sunday 11th November 2012

The Scarlet Thief:


BRIEF DESCRIPTION 1854: The banks of the Alma River, Crimean Peninsular. The Redcoats stagger to a bloody halt. The men of the King’s Royal Fusiliers are in terrible trouble, ducking and twisting as the storm of shot, shell and bullet tear through their ranks. Officer Jack Lark has to act immediately and decisively. His life and the success of the campaign depend on it. But does he have the mettle, the officer qualities that are the life blood of the British Army? From a poor background Lark has risen through the ranks by stealth and guile and now he faces the ultimate test… THE SCARLET THIEF introduces us to a formidable and compelling hero – brutally courageous, roguish, ambitious – in a historical novel as robust as it is thrillingly authentic by an author who brings history and battle vividly alive.



Paul Collard in the form of Jack Lark provide the reader with a new man, not a hero, but a man flawed and heroic, a product of his environment, but with a desire to pull himself away from the squalor that is the lot of the poor man in the 1850’s.

His story has flashes of the writing that gave Bernard Cornwell his man Sharpe, but it is also more, There is no pretence to the man which is funny given that his entire career as a Captain is a pretence. He is who he is, even hiding as a Captain the man will out, his colourful language, his ability to think for himself, to act, to think of the men under him and the way they are treated, so many things that would and do set him as a Captain apart. There is a different camaraderie in the book coupled with a small level of romance that were flashes of John Wilcox and his Simon Fonthill series, the interplay between batman and officer.

I’m no expert on the period so cannot say if the history is accurately depicted, but it felt accurate, it felt real, it felt alive.

The story its self contains some of the most riveting battle scenes I have read ever, every line every paragraph and page of the battles had me hooked, riveted to the page, there were times when I was almost as breathless as the exhausted soldiers. Paul Collard put the reader through the mill (almost as much as the soldiers). Death is on a huge scale, but not gratuitous, it merely shows the reader the hell of the battles in the Crimea, and the worthlessness of having a command built on privilege rather than skill, and even the skilled can break in the teeth of the utter horror that is war. It also shows that the writer is not afraid to kill off what would be key characters for other authors.

I really like reading debut books, to see who are the starts of the future, and Paul Collard is most certainly one. Book two cannot come soon enough for me

Hardback (9th May 2013)

Paper Back (21st Nov 2013)

Kindle: (9th May 2013)

Book 2 The Maharajah’s General is due 21st November 2013

Jack Lark barely survived the Battle of the Alma in Crimea, and his future seemed bleak. But now he’s found a way to get back to war, masquerading as a captain who died of his wounds. Arriving in India, Jack finds new enemies to fight, but this time they’re on his own side. Unmasked as a fraud, he escapes with the chaplain’s daughter, and in desperation, they seek refuge with the Maharajah the British Army is trying to defeat. The Maharajah sees Jack as a curiosity, but recognises a fellow military mind. In return for his safety, Jack must train the very army he came to India to fight. And one day soon, the two sides must meet in battle…


Filed under Historical Fiction

6 responses to “Paul Fraser Collard: The Scarlet Thief

  1. I’ve got a degree in Military Studies, and spent quite a while on the Crimean War. And I think Paul’s got it just about right…

  2. Pingback: Paul Collard: Maharajah’s General (Review) | parmenionbooks

  3. Pingback: Paul Fraser Collard: Blog Tour (The Inspiration for Jack Lark) | parmenionbooks

  4. Pingback: Paul Fraser Collard: Devil’s Assassin (Review) | parmenionbooks

  5. Pingback: Paul Fraser Collard: The Lone Warrior (2015) Review | parmenionbooks

  6. Pingback: Jack Lark v Sharpe…. | parmenionbooks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.