A MUSICAL composer turned author is hoping to have readers gripped with his hilarious new thriller documenting a 'crazy' 12 hours in the life of a gangster.
The Dealer is the first novel by Wembley writer Tony Royden, who is also an acclaimed composer, songwriter and music producer.
Tony boasts more than 80 BBC TV title music commissions, including three National Lottery shows, and the theme tune to Grandstand.
But the musical maestro has now turned his attention to fine tuning his love for writing and has produced the comedy-gangster novel, which went on sale this month.
In it, hardcore East London villain, Danny 'The Dealer' Dempsey, has settled for a quiet country life in a rural village but awakes one morning, in his heavily-secured home, to find a letter resting on his pillow.
He is bewildered by how it got there, as there are no signs of an intruder, or a break-in.
The mystery of who the letter is from - and what it contains - is something The Dealer will not share, even with his closest friends, or his dear sister Sally.
During the next 12-hour period he succeeds in ruining his sister's wedding, disrespecting other gangland leaders, and turning his hand to gambling on ludicrous bets.
Describing how the idea for the novel came to light, Tony said: "The Dealer started life in the form of a rock song of the same name, that I composed and recorded back in the 90s and was used as the theme to the Radio One Roadshow.
"The song was almost a self-contained story and involved a character by the name of The Dealer.
"Many years later, I turned the premise of the song into a full-length feature film screenplay and The Dealer became a very real character.
"Sadly, despite having a great British cast and crew attached to the project, and a really positive response to the script, such was the state of the British film industry at the time that I struggled to raise the finance needed.
"This was not helped by Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, taking away all of the tax incentives for British-made films.
"But I always believed I had a good story to tell, so it seemed the natural progression would be to turn my screenplay into a novel - and that's how it all came about."
Shotgun Publishing has hailed the book as a hit along with other reviewers, including actor Richard Briers, who said: "This extraordinary thriller has a gallery of wonderful characters from a crazy vicar to a blind bodyguard.
"A frightening and fast-paced story with the huge bonus of several chapters which are hysterically funny. Don't miss this one."
Record producer Simon Fung, of British pop-reggae duo China Black, has also referred to the novel as the 'book of the year'.
He said: "A stunning debut. Fast and compelling. I was hooked from the start and couldn't put the book down. I found myself laughing out loud on several chapters, and even read a few parts twice over they were that funny. Highly recommended."
And publishers Shotgun added: "The Dealer is a gripping and fast-moving comedy-gangster novel that has a very unusual twist in the tale - completely unexpected and unpredictable."
Tony, who will be at the official book launch at Waterstone's in St Ann's Road, Harrow, on Saturday, now hopes this is the first of many more novels to come in the future.
He said: "Although I am a music composer by trade, I loved writing my first book and most certainly will be writing another one in the near future - probably in the same gangster/comedy mode."
The Dealer by Tony Royden costs £6.99 and has the ISBN 978-0-9561253-0-9.