> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787301771
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $32.99

The Sandpit




A sophisticated literary thriller in the vein of Le Carré and William Boyd involving the disappearance of a nuclear scientist in Oxford.

'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

When John Dyer returns to Oxford from Brazil with his young son, he doesn't expect to find them both in danger. Every day is the same. He drops Leandro at his smart prep school and walks to the library to research his new book. His time living on the edge as a foreign correspondent in Rio is over.

But the rainy streets of this English city turn out to be just as treacherous as those he used to walk in the favelas. Leandro’s schoolmates are the children of influential people, among them an international banker, a Russian oligarch, an American CIA operative and a British spook. As they congregate round the sports field for the weekly football matches, the network of alliances and covert interests that spreads between these power brokers soon becomes clear to Dyer,. But it is a chance conversation with an Iranian nuclear scientist, Rustum Marvar, father of a friend of Leandro, that sets him onto a truly precarious path.

When Marvar and his son disappear, several sinister factions seem acutely interested in Marvar’s groundbreaking research at the Physics Faculty, and what he might have told Dyer about it, given Dyer was the last person to see Marvar alive.

  • Pub date: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9781787301771
  • Imprint: Harvill Secker
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $32.99

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.

Also by Nicholas Shakespeare

See all

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”

Thomas Keneally, Times Literary Supplement

“One of the best English novelists of our time”

Allan Massie, Wall Street Journal

“A great novelist”

Melbourne Age

“A world writer”

John Linklater, Sunday Herald

“Enviably good”

Louis de Bernieres, Sunday Times


Related titles