Carolyn McCrae

Award-Winning Independent Author

A Set of Lies

An Alternative History

“History is a set of lies agreed upon”
Napoleon Bonaparte

“A fantastic page-turner that kept me rapt until the last page.”
DM, Isle of Wight

What's it about?

For two hundred years it has been accepted that Napoleon Bonaparte, general and twice Emperor of the French, surrendered in July 1815 to the British and was exiled to a remote island in the South Atlantic With his detention twenty years of war with the French were at an end but the peace of Great Britain was not secure as other enemies gathered and revolution threatened. Spymaster Sir Bernard Lacey, believing that the knowledge and influence of his country’s illustrious prisoner should be used to counter those threats, devised and implemented an audacious plan, recording the politically scandalous details in a series of diaries.

Two centuries later a startling discovery by his descendent Skye Lacey, the illegitimate daughter of a prominent right-wing politician, leads her to explore her family’s history for evidence that will prove the truth of her improbable theory and enable her to sabotage her father’s extreme plans.

But she cannot do it alone. She persuades Fergal Shepherd, a researcher for her father, that there is something worth investigating and he recruits his university professor, Carl Donaldson, to their cause.

If clues left concerning the existence and location of his diaries can be identified and interpreted correctly; and if a codebook, a letter and a locket have survived intact through 200 years and six generations of his family, then Sir Bernard Lacey may, once again, save Great Britain from the conspiracies that threaten its peace and stability.

A Set of Lies is available on Kindle and in paperback from the publisher from on-line bookshops such as Amazon and from High Street bookshops – you may need the ISBN Number 978-1-784622763

A Set of Lies II

Where to buy in paperback

Available on Amazon Kindle


Napoleon has been defeated and packed off to St Helena. Or has he? This Alternative History novel explores the possibility that a British agent organised a scheme to keep Napoleon alive in exchange for secrets and information about Britain’s many other enemies that only the former Emperor would know. In the present day a student finds some artefacts in the family home on the Isle of Wight and calls for help in the form of a handsome young man with the qualifications and all the right contacts to investigate. Added to the mix are an irascible professor, a crooked MP, a totally dysfunctional family and a trail of clues that leads to the truth and its far-reaching effects. The story flits between the 19th Century and the present day in a clear and coherent manner and I enjoyed this venture into the ‘what if’….. The tale is well written, the cover bright and attractive and Carolyn McCrae has pieced together a fine and interesting novel. Historical Novel Society

This engrossing multi-generational historical novel explores the questions: what if everything we thought we knew about Napoleon was wrong? In the present day, a storm leads Skye Lacey, the illegitimate daughter of a prominent right-wing politician, to a discovery that puts a large question mark over the traditionally accepted events of 19th century history. She realises that if she can prove her suspicions she can sabotage her father’s extreme plans for the future of Britain. Skye explores the lives of six generations of the Lacey family and uncovers evidence which could mean the events of two centuries in the past will impact on the present day.      The Bookseller Historical Fiction choice June 2015

A Set of Lies by Carolyn McCrae

Readers' Comments

“A wonderful read, stunningly fabricated… An epic of triumphs and tribulations of life… A recipe of indulgence to relish.” GJR, East Sussex

“Moving smoothly between the 1800’s and the present day and utilizing themes of family secrets, dangerous deceptions, conflicting loyalties as well as spotlighting the duplicitous political double talk and paranoia that has survived throughout the centuries we are transported back and forth in time as modern day historians attempt to unravel the secret chronicles compiled by Bernard Lacey and discovered quite by chance some 200 years later. To enter into this narrative and enjoy it you need no particular interest in Napoleon nor an in depth knowledge of history. This book should appeal to a plethora of readers since it is a richly imagined novel of ‘what ifs’ that reads like part biography, part family saga, part mystery and part modern romance. What more could you ask for?” P, On-line

“I very much enjoyed A Set of Lies on a number of levels. First and foremost, it is a brilliant story, that I could hardly put down. Secondly it was, I felt, a very plausible plot. As with the best of alternative history one piece of received wisdom is tweaked, and how that change unravels creates the story. The book could be described as an historical novel, dealing as it does with the lives of a family through the events of the 19th and 20th centuries. But it is also a good old detective story, this element being set in our own current century, and it does include a bit of romance, thus catering for aficionados of that genre too! All in all, I feel there is something for everyone in this book, but most important of all, it is a jolly good read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.” JM, Spain

 “A fantastic page-turner that kept me rapt until the last page.” DM, Isle of Wight

 “The whole story has such plausibility.” DT, Isle of Wight

“A very clever and well constructed historical novel. I couldn’t put it down”. A MUST READ”. It would make a great film.” BL, Shropshire

“What an excellent book. I didn’t want to put it down. Brilliantly written and well researched.” RC, Witham, Essex

Excerpts from an Interview with

A Set of Lies is a complex book, with a significant number of characters covering events over a period of 200 years how did you keep track of everything?

For every book I write I begin with an Excel spreadsheet identifying all actions by every character with a specific date – even if that date is never used in the text. In my spreadsheet for A Set of Lies I included a column for real world events. The book is set firmly in time and place with historical and geographical references thoroughly researched (not simply on Wikipedia!) and portrayed as accurately as the plots allow.

But mistakes may still be made. What are the biggest ones you have made?

Hopefully very few that get through the editing process! What I most particularly look out for are:

  • Straightforward stupid errors: I very nearly had a character refer to Facebook – in 1976! I also very nearly had a character attend a funeral after he was, himself, dead. Luckily these were pointed out to me in time!
  • Typos: Never, ever, allow spelling errors or repeated words to get through the editing process. Don’t even think about trusting spell checkers or editing software!
  • Plot holes: Unexplained (and inexplicable) actions that suit the plot but that do not make any sense are extremely annoying and I go to great lengths to be ‘not-guilty’ of this but I fear that if my readers don’t read carefully enough they may miss the sometimes subtle links!

How does negative feedback affect you?

Negative feedback prior to publication, if given constructively, is always useful and can improve the finished book. If given maliciously, however, or if I disagree feeling the comment is ill-informed or shows misunderstanding, I simply ignore it. As the author I must really trust my own judgement.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

I take the view that ‘you can’t please all the people all of the time’ so I have to write for myself. If I am happy with the end product then hopefully my readers will be too – especially if one of those readers happens to be someone on the lookout for the next television mini-series. (One can but hope!)

Having said that, there can be no such thing as a ‘bad review‘. Even super-critical ones may tempt someone to buy the book or borrow it from a library. At least the book has been noticed! A far worse thing would be to be completely ignored by everyone and having no reviews whatsoever.

Copyright © 2024 - Carolyn McCrae