WITH despair over further cuts and unemployment, Greece is witnessing increasing rates of suicide and lawlessness. Faced with similar problems in the UK, we though seem to prefer to chuck it all in and seek a new life, don’t we?
Just last month, pensioner Anthony McErlean was jailed for faking his death in Honduras before posing as his own wife to claim a £520,000 life insurance payout. McErlean claimed he needed the £520,000 because he “didn’t want to be destitute in old age”.
The case bears similarities not just to that of back-from-the-dead John Darwin in 2002 but also John Stonehouse MP in 1974.
Darwin, you’ll recall, faked his death in a canoe accident off Teesside to help him and his wife claim insurance/ pension cash before fleeing to Panama to start anew. As for Stonehouse, he ‘drowned’ off Miami.
My latest novel, Soul Stealer, a psychological suspense has just been published. This thriller tells the story of one such change of identity. And the relentlessly chilling, life-changing consequences for those left behind, especially those searching for the truth behind subterfuge and murder.
Based on my own journalistic experiences (minus phone-hacking!), Soul Stealer not only delves deep into the secretive, shadowy world of identity theft, betrayal and revenge but also mirrors real-life events.
Years ago, I knew an internationally successful businessman and attended lavish parties on his private yacht – even ending up in Tatler! I lost touch and later learned he’d died in the Far East. I felt sad but, that was that – or, so I thought.
Next I read the Serious Fraud Office was investigating after reports of his ‘death’ may have been premature following ‘inconsistencies’ in the death certificate. It’s also claimed by creditors (he allegedly owes millions) he’s undergone cosmetic surgery to re-invent himself – a new identity in a new life wherever that may be. (And no, CrimeStoppers, I don’t know where he is either!)
Perhaps this British approach is catching! Jenaro Jiménez is currently on trial in Spain for faking death after “swindling” banks and fleeing to Paraguay, where he married a beauty queen and started another family. Fact stranger than fiction? Maybe just the plot for yet another thriller …
Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon in paperback and as eBook with the new “Look Inside” feature (at just 86p for UK readers – a steal!). Profits to Cudeca
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