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Escape, the debut novel by L. A. Davenport
Novel / Book


To escape first you have to set yourself free

John, a doctor grieving for the loss of his wife, is recuperating at a glamorous resort in the Eastern Mediterranean, where he falls for Jasna, a brilliant and beautiful young hostess. When she is brutally murdered, John is the only suspect.

To clear his name and find her killers, he teams up with Charles, the elderly hotel manager seeking justice for the death of his granddaughter. They are pitched into a ruthless world of people-trafficking, prostitution, drugs, mafia and murder, where life is cheap and no-one and nothing is what it seems.

Will they gather the evidence in time to stop the killers, or be the next victims in the seemingly endless cycle of violence? And can they trust the police, or are they part of the web of corruption that reaches into every part of life, trapping everything in its threads?

Escape is the debut novel by L. A. Davenport that plunges you into a darkly glamorous world in which John has to overcome his grief and obtain justice for Jasna and the women made victims of modern slavery.


A teaser for Escape, filmed, directed and edited by L. A. Davenport.


A Mediterranean resort - A busy street packed with holidaymakers
The seed of the idea for Escape was sown when I went on holiday to Italy in the summer of 2013. It had been a difficult year for me, both personally and professionally, and I needed to get away from everything for a while.

My travelling companion and I initially spent a week in Umbria, apparently doing very little but expending an awful lot of energy doing so. Consequently, by the time we took the train south to Naples and then to Sorrento for the second week of our trip, I felt like I’d had no holiday at all.

A complicating factor was that my friend had been a journalist and still dabbled in writing articles from time to time.

When an old friend of hers, then a commissioning editor for a national newspaper, said she would be interested in a piece on Sorrento for the travel pages, my friend leapt at the idea, especially if it meant spending a couple of nights away from our modest pensione.

She promptly rang a couple of luxury hotels in the area to see if they would be interested in having their establishment reviewed in exchange for putting us up.

I was rather surprised that, at such short notice, one of them said yes. So once we had checked into our original hotel, we dragged ourselves over to a rather swanky 5-star+ resort on the edge of the town, where I immediately felt out of place in my ‘scruffy chic’ holiday clothes.

While my friend wanted to swim and enjoy the hotel, I was overcome by exhaustion and decided I would prefer to go to our rather luxurious room.

So I found myself standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, unsure what to do…

A Mediterranean resort - A secret grotto for bathing
Like John, the protagonist in Escape, I fell asleep as soon as I my head touched the pillow. Like him, I was then awoken not once but twice by mysterious banging and urgent whispering that, at first, seem to be in the room with me but I realised, once I had recovered my senses, was just outside the door.

From there, my experiences, aside from a few dramatic embellishments, followed John’s at the beginning of the book, except of course that I was with my friend.

The concierge introduced himself while we were standing in the lobby wondering if there was anywhere to eat. He then took us through the hotel’s fragrant gardens to the restaurant and sat with us, first to have champagne and then to accompanying us while we ate dinner.

The two women on the sofa, the Russian at the next table admonishing our host, the stone passageway behind a concealed door, the American couples talking together over breakfast the next morning and the seagull landing on the canopy…all those things happened.

It was only when I saw the seagull struggling to stand on the slippery surface, fold its wings, then look me straight in the eye and then down at the Russian man from the night before, that I realised I had to use all this for something.

But what story? What would happen, and to whom? That was the tricky part.

I first thought about writing it as a feature film. As I mention in my notes for my collection No Way Home, I wrote scripts for several years with a friend. Although none of them were picked up to be made, they formed the basis of several of the stories that are included in the book.

A Mediterranean resort - The Old Harbour with Fishing Boats
For Escape, I finished a full draft of the script and showed it to a couple of friends. It became obvious from their feedback and from my rereading it that it was undercooked and lack depth. More characters were required, and John needed to be revealed more as person. And it lacked a proper ending.

Over the next several years, I honed the story and developed the characters over and over again, until I finally I arrived at a plot, and a book, that I felt merited what I had experienced all that time ago.

Last year, I returned to Sorrento, with a different travelling companion, and sought out the hotel where I had stayed. Standing in the lobby, several years and, as a person, a million miles away from who I was when I went there before, I was amazed at how different the place seemed to how I remembered it. I had moulded and stretched it beyond all recognition for the story and I smiled at how, well, real it all seemed.

I guess when I went there, it was a time when I needed to get away, to escape from myself, and I did so in my imagination.

PLUS: Read how my heartbreak following the death of David Bowie led me to Tumblr and the inspiration for the dream sequences in Escape.

Escape is published by P-Wave Press.
Escape, the debut thriller, is out now.

No Way Home and Dear Lucifer and Other Stories are also out now.
© L. A. Davenport 2019.