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  • Published: 2 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529111842
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $22.99

The Sandpit

A sophisticated thriller about a missing nuclear scientist - perfect for fans of Robert Harris, William Boyd and Charles Cumming

'A remarkable contemporary thriller... A triumph' WILLIAM BOYD

A journalist becomes embroiled in a world of secrets and paranoia when a nuclear scientist goes missing.

When John Dyer returns to Oxford from Brazil with his young son, Leandro, he expects a quiet life. His time living on the edge as a foreign correspondent is over.

But these rainy streets turn out to be just as treacherous as those he used to walk in Rio. Leandro's schoolmates are the children of powerful people, and a chance conversation with another father, Iranian scientist Rustum Marvar, sets Dyer onto a truly dangerous path.

Then Marvar disappears. Soon, sinister factions are circling, and become acutely interested in what Dyer knows about Marvar's world-changing discovery...

'An absorbing thriller with shades of John le Carré' Evening Standard
'Exciting... A page-turner' Daily Telegraph

  • Published: 2 November 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529111842
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Nicholas Shakespeare

Nicholas Shakespeare was born in 1957. The son of a diplomat, much of his youth was spent in the Far East and South America. His novels have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Vision Of Elena Silves, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, Snowleg and The Dancer Upstairs, which was chosen by the American Libraries Association in 1997 as the year's best novel, and in 2001 was made into a film of the same name by John Malkovich. Recent books include Secrets of the Sea and Priscilla. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He is married with two sons and divides his time between Oxford and Tasmania.

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Praise for The Sandpit

A remarkable contemporary thriller - with shades of Graham Greene and Le Carré about it - but also a profound and compelling investigation of a hugely complex human predicament. Brilliantly observed, captivatingly written, grippingly narrated - a triumph

William Boyd

Nicholas Shakespeare gathers comparisons to the great and the good. He needs none. He is what he is - a very fine English novelist

John Lawton

One of our best and truest novelists

The Times

Nicholas Shakespeare honours the best tradition of the novel

Times Literary Supplement

One of the best English novelists of our time

Wall Street Journal

A great novelist

Melbourne Age

A world writer

Sunday Herald

Enviably good

Sunday Times

Quite simply excellent. If you're looking for something exciting and sinewy to read, this is it. There's no mistaking quality when it appears in book form

John Simpson

Shakespeare sets up the myriad pressures on his protagonist with consummate skill, keeping the reader guessing about the motives of everybody Dyer encounters. There are more than a few hints of Graham Greene and John Le Carre here... In its exploration of how individual actions can have huge and unexpected ramifications, The Sandpit is an enthralling read....the theme of how ordinary individuals negotiate the pressures brought down on them by extraordinary events generates superb drama.'

Literary Review

A grimly absorbing literary thriller with shades of John le Carre... opens a window onto the murky world of international nuclear policy and espionage amorality

Evening Standard

Wonderfully well written...old school in the best possible way, with an insidious escalation of menace, and paranoia that fairly shimmers off the pages


A beautifully considered, subtle exploration of Englishness, of betrayal, of social change and character - elegantly and engagingly wrapped in a classic spy novel

Rory Stewart

Exceptionally well written


Gripping stuff, deftly told. Yet within this nail-biting novel of suspense is another, more contemplative novel... that invites comparison to Graham Greene. Here is a fine writer, spinning suspense with the ease, patience and control of a fly-fisherman


Echoes of Greene, Conrad and Le Carre. Yet these influences have been absorbed as good writers always absorb the influence of their predecessors and go beyond it to make something that is wholly their own...One good test of novel is: does it re-read? Well, I've now read The Sandpit twice, and I'm pretty sure I shall read it again in a few months' time


A joy to read, the novel reflects John le Carré's genre-stretching influence on every page: the boys' school setting, the mixture of social comedy and Hitchcockian shenanigans, the astute, sophisticated prose, the central philosophical dilemma, and the exploration of what it means to be English in a globalised world.

Sunday Times

Exciting...Shakespeare is an ebullient writer... a paranoia-filled page-turner

Daily Telegraph

The best evocation of Oxford since Brideshead

Allan Massie

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