Fault Line

Duncan Sperry

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    At the heart of story is a global payments fraud, used to fund international terrorism. As the plot unfolds across three continents it becomes clear that this is also a personal attack on the "flawed hero", Philip Dunstan, who has to dig deep into his past in Special Forces to find out who and why.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+,13-17

    Target Gender: Universal


    London, Oxford, The Gulf, Pakistan, Kashmir and Scotland,

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Austin Macauley

    Year Published: 2018

    Starting Description

    Philip Dunstan's Internet payments business is under attack, his company is being used as a cover for a global fraud, his right-hand man has been murdered and his executive assistant kidnapped. As the security services and the police take an unhealthy interest in Dunstan, it gets even more personal.

    Ending Description

    With the help of an old Army buddy, ex-SAS NCO "The Monk", Dunstan confronts his past and his nemesis, Anil Ghol, in Kashmir (along the "Fault Line" with India) but on returning to the UK, he has to save his family from an assassination squad, and clear his name with Security Services.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes


    Plot - Other Elements


    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Voyage and Return

    Main Character Details

    Name: Philip Dunstan

    Age: 42

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Celia Fanshawe

    Age: 47

    Gender: Female

    Role: Logical

    Key Traits: Educated,Honorable,Leader,Sophisticated,Secretive,Manipulative,Unapologetic,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: The Monk

    Age: 56

    Gender: Male

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Confident,Decisive,Heroic,Secretive,Unapologetic,Selfless,Skillful,Sarcastic,Faithful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Anil Ghol

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Confident,Criminal,Patriotic,Educated,Sophisticated,Skillful,Leader,Manipulative,Unapologetic,Crazy,Heroic

    Development Pitch

    This is a plot which reflects the complexity and obfuscation of the modern world of international terrorism, funded through financial fraud, and the challenges Security Services have to deal with in countering it. Enacted in a world where geographical and physical boundaries are blurred, if not wholly absent, the picture is never complete and nothing is ever quite what it seems: it is a "Grey War" played out across international boundaries. Friends and others have said to me this "reads like a film" and should be a film or TV series, "a bit like The Night Manager" (to quote more than one person). Even though the inherent complexity and uncertainty of the plot is played out through the main protagonist, Philip Dunstan, the hero for me is Celia Fanshawe, Head of International Counter-Terrorism at MI5: the strength and depth of character of Celia and other female characters, such as Dunstan's wife, Faith, is something which I feel should resonate with a wide audience. There is plenty of "action" and "spy stuff' but the twist of the plot in Kashmir demonstrates the axiom, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" as we gain insight into the mind of the "terrorist" antagonist, Anil Ghol; hopefully eliciting some sympathy for the man and his cause, a free and independent Kashmir. In short, it would make a thought-provoking, ambiguous, action-packed, emotional roller coaster of a film or TV series.




    After discovering that a global payments fraud is being used to fund international terrorism, the founder of a tech company vows to put a stop to it. But as the plot thickens, he discovers that the threat is personal and must dig deep into his past to discover who is after him... and why.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The Book Profile does an excellent job of reflecting the book. It feels largely concise and descriptive. That said, the Development Pitch section could be tweaked a bit to maximize its effectiveness. It isn't necessary to quote friends who say the book reads like a screenplay. Although they may be correct, it won't matter much to a buyer. Parts of this section are also written in first person ("...for me, is Celia Fanshawe"), and these sentences should be rewritten in third person for consistency. Otherwise, great job!

    Draw of Story

    The Preface does a great job of setting us up for what's to come, even without an introduction to the protagonist. It delivers us a tangible problem right away, and it's easy to understand that the rest of the story will be spent trying to solve that problem. It also tricks us into caring about Idris Morgan. Because he is the first character we meet, we assume his importance. What we don't assume however, is his death so early on. And this does a great job of raising the stakes and providing enough emotional tension to keep an audience engaged.

    Possible Drawbacks

    There are a lot of moving parts to follow, and at certain points it's easy to become distracted by the complexity of things. Some of the explanations are a bit too technical, which runs the risk of detracting from the established tension. There are also several paragraphs, it seems, of ancillary information throughout. Explanations of geography, terrain, anatomy of weaponry, or anything that doesn't drive the story forward in a tangible way can likely be tightened without compromising the pertinent details. Additionally, the POV sometimes changes in the middle of a chapter, which takes away from the action of any given scene. It could be helpful to head chapters with the appropriate POV, and to stick with that same POV throughout.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The story is action-packed from the start, and the stakes and tension levels remain pretty consistent throughout. There are also multiple layers to the story, and the threat to Dunstan's family in particular gives the audience something personal to latch onto. We understand the greater threat to humanity, but bringing it down to such a personal level for the protagonist is a great way to keep the audience hooked, while ensuring that the protagonist is relatable along the way. The story is also socially relevant, and does a great job of incorporating both the pros and cons of technology. Using technology to fund terrorism is still a relatively new concept, and it serves as a great reminder that with greatness comes responsibility.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this would certainly appeal to those with an interest in geo-political conflicts, those with a passion for technology and/or cryptocurrency, and fans of action/adventure stories. The project does feel like it might skew more towards a more male-dominated audience, but there is a market for that kind of story (just look at the audience Vince Flynn has created for himself!). There is also some international appeal here, given the premise, and the story also feels socially relevant, which makes it easy to engage with and approachable.

    Awards Potential

    Based on the genre alone, it's not likely that a project like this would receive major above the line Awards attention. But that's not to say that there isn't some below the line potential here. There are a decent amount of special effects likely necessary for production, which could garner some attention. An adaptation would also likely require a clever score for dramatic effect and things like costuming and/or cinematography could be contenders as well.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    The blend between technology and an international terrorist plot feels unique, and the inclusion of rock climbing as a crux towards the end of the novel is a nice touch. To make it more unique may mean humanizing the complexities just a bit. Spending more time on driving the story forward and less time on ancillary explanations could help preserve the tension levels throughout. We don't need all of the details, just the vital ones that best serve the plot line. Doing this could help elevate the story even more, and help it stand out among others of its kind.

    Lead Characters

    Dunstan is a nice blend of tech guru and ex-military man, which puts him in a unique position in terms of access. In that way, he's above average from the beginning. He's also flawed, which makes him intriguing. He's a bit arrogant and brash, especially with authority figures, but it balances out when we see his skill and tenacity as the plot line unravels. The way that Dunstan relates to people, especially fellow ex-military, makes him feel unique, too. He not only has friends, but friends who are willing to sacrifice so much for him. It makes him a touch more likable and forgiving.

    Uniqueness of Story

    With a few tweaks, this could be a rare gem. The blend between tech and terrorism helps to elevate the story and separate it from others of its kind. Still, tightening it a bit could be beneficial. Sticking to the primary storyline and eliminating some of the ancillary research and explanations could help preserve the tension and ensure that an audience stays engaged from start to finish. Additionally, dumbing down some of the more complex aspects of the plot line could ensure that the audience has an easier time following the plot and establishing the characters' roles and duties throughout.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio

    Analyst Recommendation



    There is enough potential here to warrant consideration, though the project still has a few areas that might benefit from some improvement. It's easy to get lost in some of the complexities of the plotline and it could be helpful to reel in some of the ancillary things, to elevate the primary storyline a bit more. The story has great tension levels throughout, but we're taken out a bit by the sheer amount of things to keep track of. Slimming down the details a bit should help keep an audience engaged without losing the intended dramatic effect of the scenes.


    After discovering that a global payments fraud is being used to fund international terrorism, the founder of a tech company vows to put a stop to it. But as the plot thickens, he discovers that the threat is personal and must dig deep into his past to discover who is after him... and why.

    What We Liked

    FAULT LINE is high-stakes and high-tension from start to finish. In the vein of authors like Vince Flynn, it combines international terrorism and technology in a twisty, complex tale and presents one, flawed protagonist as the sole character able to save the day. With an abundance of resources and friends in high places, the story's protagonist is able to outsmart the terrorists and save not only the world, but his own family as well.

    Film: FAULT LINE is high-tension and high-stakes. It is jam-packed with action and introduces a diverse cast of characters, all with their own motivations and goals. The tale is weaved nicely to incorporate multiple layers, and its finite starting and end points makes it feel like it would fit the feature format well.

    TV: Because of its definitive starting and end points, it's likely that FAULT LINE would be much better suited for film. That said, it could potentially work well as a miniseries, too. There is enough action and suspense to sustain an audience through multiple episodes, leading up to a dramatic conclusion and a cast of characters forever changed.

    Key points:
    Socially relevant.
    International appeal.
    Diverse cast.


    IDRIS MORGAN notices international credit card fraud from his company, CYBERX’S, Prague office. He tells his top analyst, ABDUL SHAHID, to shut it down. Two weeks later, forensics investigate a victim with a nearly severed head. DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR BECKWITH decides to question the victim’s boss. The next day, tech guru PHILIP DUNSTAN believes he is being followed by the police.

    Dunstan is approached by the police and taken to New Scotland Yard. There, Beckwith and REBECCA LOVAT inform Dunstan that millions of dollars have been laundered through his company, and that these funds may support terrorist organizations. They ask him to trace the laundering. Lovat reveals that his business partner, Indris Morgan, has been executed.

    Dunstan instructs his executive assistant, KATE CROSS, to call the head of security and make sure that all is safe. Dunstan instructs his finance director, MARC TYSOE, to draft a letter to the Stock Exchange, informing them of Morgan’s death. Dunstan secretly sends Marc to Bermuda to start a forensic trace and to create a clone from the backup servers and terminate the global hub in London.

    As Dunstan is leaving the office, Abdul Shadid approaches. He asks to speak in private and tells Dunstan about the fraud that he and Morgan discovered. Dunstan deduces that they’ve been working with a crooked third-party vendor, and Shadid reveals that it’s Dunstan who signed them up, in the early days of the company, without verification.

    Dunstan visits Morgan’s widow, GWENYTH, and asks her not to tell the police that he was supposed to be out running with his partner. Just outside of his house, Dunstan pulls out a burner phone and calls THE MONK. He speaks in code and tells The Monk to prepare to meet him within forty-eight hours. At home, he and his wife, FAITH, discuss Morgan’s murder. Dunstan convinces her to pull the children from school and hide out at her sister, ELLIE’S, hunting estate.

    Dunstan calls HENRY STANTON, his non-executive Chairman on his way into the board meeting. There, he informs the board that Stanton will take over as CEO and board member GEORGE JACKSON will step in as COO. Dunstan will temporarily step down to seek out Morgan’s killer. Kate appears to inform Dunstan that the police are waiting for him with an arrest warrant. Before leaving with the police, Dunstan instructs Kate to contact REDMOND on a burner phone.

    Beckwith takes Dunstan to the station for questioning, but Dunstan doesn’t give up any valuable information. Meanwhile, CELIA FANSHAWE of M15 learns that the money laundering was stopped several weeks before Morgan’s death. Rebecca Lovat argues that they need someone on the ground inside CyberX. The account in question is a Pakistani account. Fanshawe asks that Dunstan be brought in for questioning. Beckwith arranges the transfer. In the car to London, Dunstan reveals that he needs to use the restroom. After convincing the officers that he has diarrhea, the car pulls over. CyberX’s head of security, VERNON HAMILL, is waiting on a motorcycle. He assaults the police and he and Dunstan take off.
    Dunstan packs all his rock-climbing survival gear, including the set of knives like the one that killed Morgan. He hops into his Range Rover, ready to fight. Duncan calls Redmond from one of his burner phones, and we discover that Redmond is an M15 agent. Redmond meets with Fanshawe, who decides that it’s best to have Dunstan on their side.

    Dunstan pulls into a car park and is approached by THE MONK. The Monk agrees to help Dunstan, and Dunstan reveals his plan to link up with some friends who can help. Dunstan is followed by a Land Rover and he and The Monk discover that his car has been bugged. They leave the bug in place and retreat into The Monk’s private, armed country house. They prepare to leave, either by car or by foot, at a moment’s notice. The Monk takes Dunstan into his cellar, full of artillery, and they begin packing weapons.

    Two missiles hit The Monk’s house, and chaos ensues. They rush to the Range Rover with their weapons and begin firing back at their assailants. They target and kill the assailants and drive off.

    Celia Fanshawe meets with MAJOR GENERAL CHRISTOPHER GIBBS and asks to borrow two of his female soldiers of Indian descent, for overseas surveillance. Gibbs agrees. The newspapers report an army ammunition depot has been robbed.

    Dunstan uses one of his burner phones to call DREADNOUGHT, an old army buddy who owes him a favor. Dreadnought agrees to help, and Dunstan leads The Monk back out into the world. Unbeknownst to them, two men in a Land Rover watch them. Meanwhile, in Bermuda, Mike Tysoe works through the night to switch over the CyberX system.

    Fanshawe and the others track down Dreadnought and assume that his recently chartered plane is on its way to pick up Dunstan and The Monk. Assailants burn down Dunstan’s family home. The UK Counter Terrorism organization demands that Dunstan only be followed, and not intercepted. His Range Rover is located, and Dunstan and The Monk are spotted via a helicopter camera. Dunstan responds to one of Redmond’s calls, and he asks for Dunstan’s cooperation and support. He reveals that Dunston’s house has been destroyed, his family is in danger and Kate has been kidnapped. Dunstan agrees to assist Redmond, in exchange for his resources to find Kate and protect his family.

    Fanshawe briefs to two female soldiers and instructs them to follow the pay trail in Pakistan to find the end point for the money. Meanwhile, Dreadnought’s helicopter travels to the designated site. Redmond ditches his team, except for Rebecca Lovat. Dunstan and The Monk arrive at the airfield, followed by Redmond and Lovat. Dreadnought’s plane sends down a ramp that allows Dunstan to drive his Range Rover into the bay of the plane. Redmond and Lovat follow. The impact of the crash kills Redmond, but Rebecca Lovat survives. Dunstan, The Monk and Lovat arrive in Al-Qurum, and are greeted by the hostile ADBUL THABET, Dreadnought’s loyal servant. Thabet demands that Dunstan greet Dreadnought alone, in very formal circumstances. He is shocked and appalled when Dreadnought throws away formality and wraps his old friend into a bear hug.

    Kate awakens in a barn and discovers that her captors are two Nepalese guerrillas. Brothers, one of them establishes a radio signal and reveals that if Dunstan is not dead within three days, Kate will die in his place. Meanwhile, the female intelligence soldiers arrive in Pakistan, disguised as administrative assistants.

    Thabet informs Dunstan that Al-Qurum will provide them an entire floor of the bank to do their investigation, but under strict circumstances to prevent political unrest with Pakistan. Upon meeting The Monk, Dreadnought invites him to help review the protocols of Al-Qurum’s armed forces the following day.

    Marc Tysoe arrives in Al-Qurum and meets Dunstan and Lovat. He informs them that he switched the Bermuda server on, in hopes that the fraudulent activity would resume. Soon enough, it does, and he and Lovat use black market sites to try to track down the name of the fraudster. The female intelligence officials track a Toyota to a gate. They create a fuss to place tracking devices on both the car, and a fair-haired GUARD.

    Lovat traces the account to ANIL GHOL, but Dunstan denies knowing him. Dunstan learns that Kate has been murdered, with ‘2001’ carved into her chest. Lovat urges him to tell her the truth about Anil Ghol, and Dunstan reveals that on his last military coupe, he captured two Afghanis and one Pakistan named Ghol. He reckons that Ghol’s family is out for revenge.

    Anil Ghol has a gathering and reveals that his goal is to break up Pakistan into different tribes. The intelligence officers, DHAR and MURRIA, listen from outside. Dreadnought agrees to work with the Pakistani president to provide resources for Dunstan. He arranges diplomatic travel for Dunstan.

    Fanshawe discovers that there are nuclear capabilities in the terrorists’ hands, and that the main threat is likely in London. They realize that they need Dunstan to save the day. Fanshawe and Gibbs receive word on Ghol’s travels.

    Dunstan and The Monk arrive in Pakistan, with Dunstan’s old friend, CAPTAIN HUGO LAYLOCK. Together with black ops volunteers, they meet with Dhar and Murria and discover Ghol’s last known location. Ghol turns on his mobile phone and Murria picks up the tracker to discover that he must be airborne, heading into Indian Kashmir to try to establish a new homeland using land from both Pakistan and India, and aided by nuclear weapons.

    DIGGER COLE, a friend of Dunstan’s, operates a chopper looking for the assailant’s Land Rover. He spots it, and alerts Beckwith’s team and Gibbs. Meanwhile, Dunstan delivers his mission: seek out and destroy the threat before it causes pan-regional unrest. Meanwhile, Fanshawe’s boss calls to tell her that the protection for Dunstan’s family is going to be thinned out. He suggests using them as bait, to detain and arrest Ghol. Rebecca Lovat finds and reports evidence of weapons grade plutonium going missing in Pakistan. Fanshawe, Gibbs and Beckwith begin working together to capture KHAN, the Pakistani in London who helped facilitate the fraudulent transactions.

    Dunstan, The Monk and their team arrive at Ghol’s fortress. Dunstan and Laylock discover that the only way to survey it is it rock-climb the walls. The Monk releases his ops teams to enter the fortress and capture Ghol. Dunstan and his crew find Ghol. Dunstan demands that he end the blood feud and call off the hit on his family, but Ghol maintains that he cannot. The Monk places a call to Lovat, who puts Ghol through to Khan. Fearing for his friend, Ghol tells Khan to call off the hit on Dunstan’s family. All appears well, until Dunstan learns that Ghol has set up a series of nuclear warfare to set up an independent state. Dunstan vows to make him fail. Dunstan demands that Ghol transfer the fraudulent money back to CyberX, and Ghol does so. Dunstan and his team move on to trying to dismantle the nuclear bombs, but Dhar insists on staying behind to ensure that Ghol stays true to his word.

    The crew gets to the site of the bomb, and Dunstan repels down towards the nuclear bomb site. He and his crew work to disarm it. They make it back to their planes and return to Al-Qurum. Dreadnought arranges for Dunstan to return to his family. Back in the UK, The Monk reveals that Lovat and her team have no idea where the hit team is. He produces a car full of ammo, and they rush to save Dunstan’s family. Chaos ensues at the safe house until Dunstan and The Monk use their expert military skills to kill the assailants. Dunstan reunites with his family, finally telling Faith the truth. Celia Fanshawe arrives to discuss the fall-out of Dunstan’s mission, and we learn that she knows The Monk from long ago.

    Fanshawe is afraid of a potential media fallout for her organization and promises to wipe any of Dunstan’s crime off the record. The Monk, she maintains, will have to disappear, and never return to the UK. And CyberX has been taken off the Stock Exchange. Just before The Monk boards a plane back to Al-Qurum, Fanshawe kisses him. Meanwhile, Dhar falls in love with Ghol. She joins his team as a personal advisor. Rebecca Lovat rises to the top of her industry. Dunstan uses the funds that Ghol deposited to start a better, smarter business. Months later, Dunstan is arrested on several charges and brought in for questioning. Lovat and Fanshawe appear and offer him a deal: create a black-market site to attract terrorists, and the charges disappear. Dunstan ultimately agrees, and soon after gets his first customer.

    About The Author

    Ex-Army officer, climber, mountaineer, financial and data security consultant, Duncan's writings draws on his personal and professional life, supplemented by extensive research. He has worked and operated in over forty countries, spending much time in Middle East, The Gulf, South East Asia and India sub-continent. He has climbed in the Himalaya, Canadian Rockies, Alaska, and Tibet and is currently Chair of the Mount Everest Foundation. He takes a keen interest in geo-political and other "fault lines" around the world.