It covers a lot of ground – tension between North and South Korea, terrorists in the Sahara and battles of wills between superpowers the USA and China – culminating in the real threat of nuclear war which would wipe out humanity.
"The inspiration came from the general atmosphere of danger and tension in the world which is much greater than I have ever known it,” said the author known for best-sellers such as the Kingsbridge series and thrillers like the Eye of the Needle.
As ever his research was meticulous, though the pandemic curtailed his travels. “For Never, I interviewed numerous people who have been in positions of power in the world of international affairs, including a prime minister, two ambassadors and a general.
"I planned several trips, but the virus intervened. Fortunately I had already visited Beijing, the Sahara Desert and the White House. I studied aircraft carriers, missile launchers, and nuclear bunkers.
“I read The Economist every week and the Financial Times every day, plus Foreign Affairs magazine, The China Quarterly, and The Journal of Strategic Studies. But the most important part was talking to the people on the front line in global politics,” he said.
As for the title – he hopes World War Three will never happen.
"When I was thinking about this, I kept thinking, ‘I hope it never happens’. I realised that the word ‘never’ sort of summed up the fear that I felt and that I believe readers will feel when they read it,” he said.
Never is out in paperback now.