Beneath Gray Skies

David Slater, a conscript in the 1920s Army of the Confederacy, faces a dilemma.
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Being a long-time fan of Hugh Ashton’s Holmes and Watson stories, I approached this new series with some trepidation. In the first pages, I unconsciously looked for a Holmes lookalike character or a Watson-style sidekick. Instead, I found a quite believable set of characters in an alternative history which branches off from our own world with the simple and believable presumption that the American Civil War was never fought because the slave-owning states were allowed to secede peacefully, then boycotted by the Union. Over the decades, the Confederacy became a pariah state… until they were approached by a young Adolf Hitler and the nascent Nazi party. With a believable cast of characters drawn from a wide range of the groups – young Confederate soldiers, redneck bullies, German, English, and Washington power brokers and their operatives – Hugh Ashton has skillfully created a world of different technologies, different social norms, and different worldviews. The detailed descriptions of the Zeppelins construction and flights were particularly intriguing.

-- Randy Green
Book Description:

David Slater, a conscript in the 1920s Army of the Confederacy, faces a dilemma. When he and his regiment were shipped to Germany to help stage a coup there, his Limey fellow-soldier Brian was acting strangely. David now has the choice of reporting his best friend to his commanding officers, or keeping quiet and just doing his job: preparing for the arrival of Bismarck, the giant Zeppelin flying Hitler and his Nazi cohorts to meet their new allies, the Confederates.
Beneath Gray Skies follows the adventures of David and those around him in a past that never happened-where the Civil War never took place, and the Confederacy survived as a pariah slave-holding nation into the 20th century. Confederates, Unionists, British and Germans plot and counterplot in a tightly woven tale of espionage, treachery and romance.
The cast of Beneath Gray Skies includes rogue British agent “Bloody Brian” Finch-Malloy, hard-drinking Henry Dowling, and Christopher Pole, a slave who escapes from the hell of the Confederacy-living against a backdrop that includes real historical characters. Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, and Dr. Hugo Eckener, the brilliant anti-Nazi Zeppelin captain, all live again in this “extraordinarily well-written piece of mind candy that becomes more and more difficult to put down” (Christopher Belton).
Almost without realizing what has happened, David finds himself part of a conspiracy within the Confederacy that includes “Bloody Brian”, which is working to prevent the airship’s arrival in Georgia, to seize the mysterious priceless treasure on board the Bismarck, and to halt the spread of slavery to Europe.As David Slater and his President, Jefferson Davis III, confront each other on the doomed dirigible, David must ask himself once again where his loyalty lies: to his country, or to a higher morality.
Beneath Gray Skies is the first published novel by Hugh Ashton, a British-born writer and journalist.

Hugh Ashton (Author)
Hugh Ashton was born in the UK in 1956, and after graduation from university worked in the technology industry around Cambridge (the first personal computer he used was Sir Clive Sinclair’s personal TRS-80) until 1988, when a long-standing interest in the country took him to Japan. There he worked for a Japanese company producing documentation for electronic instruments and high-end professional audio equipment, helped to set up the infrastructure for Japan’s first public Internet service provider, worked for major international finance houses, and worked on various writing projects, including interviewing figures in the business and scientific fields, and creating advertorial reports for Japanese corporations to be reprinted in international business magazines. Along the way, he met and married Yoshiko, and also gained certificates in tea ceremony and iaidō (the art of drawing a sword quickly). In 2008, he wrote and self-published his first published novel, Beneath Gray Skies, an alternative history in which the American Civil War was never fought, and the independent Confederacy forms an alliance with the German National Socialist party. This was followed by At the Sharpe End, a techno-financial-thriller set in Japan at the time of the Lehman’s crash, and Red Wheels Turning, which re-introduced Brian Finch-Malloy, the hero of Beneath Gray Skies, referred to by one reviewer as “a 1920s James Bond”. In 2012, Inknbeans Press of California published his first collection of Sherlock Holmes adventures, Tales from the Deed Box of John H. Watson M.D., which was swiftly followed by many other volumes of Holmes’ adventures, hailed by Sherlockians round the world as being true to the style and the spirit of the originals by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Inknbeans also published Tales of Old Japanese and other books by Ashton, including the Sherlock Ferret series of detective adventures for children. He and Yoshiko returned to the UK in 2016 for family reasons, where they now live in the Midlands cathedral city of Lichfield. In December 2017, Inknbeans Press ceased to be, following the sudden death of the proprietor, chief editor and leading light. Since that time, Ashton has reclaimed the copyright of his work, and has republished it in ebook and paper editions, along with the work of several other former Inknbeans authors. He continues to write Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as various other fiction and non-fiction projects, including documentation for forensic software, and editing and layout work on a freelance basis, in between studying for an MSc in forensic psychological studies with the Open University.
Dear Reader, author’s recently published book “Beneath Gray Skies” is now available on leading bookstores, get your copy now and help the author by writing a review of the book.
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