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The Trial of Poppy Moon

Issues: Reckless, calamitous medical practice, no time for a trial, Near Death Experience, an impossible race against time.

Locations: Initially London then Jersey (UK) and Richmond Virginia (USA)


Twice a year, Poppy Moon helps crew a yacht which travels the length of the Atlantic – to Britain in the Autumn, then back to the Caribbean in the spring. For the rest of the year, she lives comfortably in Barbados with her mother and ten-year-old son.

It’s April and Poppy’s on the return trip to the Caribbean. As they near the Channel Isles, rough seas force them to head for Jersey. A mile or so out of St Helier, a huge wave pitches Poppy overboard into the treacherously cold water. She has a lifeline, but her fellow crew members are unable to pull her aboard. The coastguard can only do so much.

At the hospital, Poppy is pronounced dead from exposure. Documents she’s carrying permit the immediate removal of her organs for transplant. One kidney is destined for Bristol, the other for Paris. The one heading for Bristol gets damaged, but the Paris-bound organ vanishes.

But when the human body is dangerously below normal temperature, its vital life-signs can be deceiving. Poppy is still alive. But by the time she regains consciousness, it’s too late: the remaining kidney, which has been traced to a private hospital in Caen, is already in the body of a twelve-year-old boy. Unfortunately, the law regarding transplanted organs gained by illegal means is particularly clear: victims never get their organs back.

Marcus Coaker, a leading London solicitor advocate, is tasked with proving the doctor’s negligence – and he has an unexpected witness to prove it. During the removal of her kidneys, Poppy had a Near Death Experience; she saw and heard everything that was done. Marcus promptly sets in motion the first legal action ever prosecuted on the basis of an NDE.

There’s no time to go to trial. A well-informed and enraged public must persuade a French judge to order the return of the kidney. But Marcus hadn’t counted on such powerful forces uniting against him: the Jersey hospital, Whitehall, the European parliament – all want Poppy dead.

The Trial of Poppy Moon is a remarkable debut novel – fast-paced, hard-edged and terrifically moving, it approaches one of the biggest questions of all: whether there is life after death.

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