The mysterious balloon man (The shadow of Ali Bey – volume 1)

As the 18th century ends and the 19th century begins, changes abound all over Europe. Absolute monarchy is coming to an end, England and Spain struggle for supremacy in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and France is in conflict with all its neighbours. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, a new power is starting to emerge: the United States of America.

In the midst of all these changes, Alfred Gordon, a civil servant employed by the British secret service, makes a discovery that will totally revolutionise global espionage. He realises that the nobility, the traditional spies, are in decline. He turns to the burgeoning middle class instead.

Gordon suggests to the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, that they should employ Thomas Headking, a young Englishman living in Spain who is on the run after killing Lord Brookshield’s son in a duel. They plan to use his business acumen to spy for them in exchange for a royal pardon.

Tom Headking’s ability is such that he gains access to the office of Godoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, where he finds a mysterious treatise on hot air balloons written by Polindo Remigio. Headking investigates and finds out that there is no such person. It is a pseudonym used by a Catalan man named Domingo Badia, a capable fellow with daring ideas who was to become the most intrepid traveller of the 19th century, a spy who has gone down in history with the name Ali Bey.

“THE MYSTERIOUS BALLOON MAN” is the first book in “THE SHADOW OF ALI BEY” trilogy. It is an acidic, yet humorous, take on politics, a tale filled will parvenus, arrivistes, scoundrels, traitors and opportunists… And so the great adventure begins.

What do the critics say?

Albert Salvadó uses ideal ingredients to spin a web of intrigue, a mixture of historical reality and fiction, weaving in a romantic subplot to add a fun, racy undercurrent. (Fina Reig. EL RACÓ DE PROA)