How a looted KGB telephone inspired a novel

A telephone once belonging to the KGB is the inspiration for a new thriller which tells of a struggle for survival against prejudice and fanaticism.

Centered in Brittany, Last Rites by John Humphries begins with a ringing telephone, once belonging to the KGB, with a woman pleading for help at the other end of the line. But how can the telephone ring if it is not connected?

The ringing telephone becomes an obsession investigative journalist Jack Flynt carries with him in a plastic bag from Paris to Wales, then to Île d'Iroise, an island off the French coast, a refuge for a community of Breton-language speakers hiding a dark secret. Flynt's only hope is to do what he does best. If he finds the mystery caller he'll find the person trying to kill her - unless he's too late.

'The idea for the novel came from a real event,' explains John Humphries.

'The KGB telephone in Last Rites does exist. I bought it for $5 from a second-hand shop in Tallinn in Estonia where I was lecturing to journalists how newspapers ran in a free society.' he said.

'Estonia had only recently broken free from the Soviet Bloc and the shop owner swore the telephone had been looted from the former KGB headquarters in Tallinn.' said John.

'It has since been connected to the landline in my study but crackles awfully! Although, I'm not sure whether that's KGB or B.T!' he added.

Last Rites has already received critical praise, with author Terry Breverton praising the novel as 'a razor-sharp thriller that leaves the reader off balance throughout'.

John Humphries is a former national newspaper editor , investigative journalist and Foreign Correspondent. As European Bureau Chief for a large newspaper group, he has travelled widely covering major international news stories. Since retiring Humphries has written a number of non-fiction books relating to Wales including 'Spying for Hitler' published by University of Wales Press and translated into Portuguese by a Brazilian publisher. This is his first novel. He lives in Gwent.