Enjoy A Sneak Peak Of Three’s A Crowd… Plus Win 10 Copies!

A lively, clever exploration of a what-if scenario, this debut novel will have you laughing, gasping and perhaps shedding a tear too.

A father. His son. One massive misunderstanding…

Out-of-work actor Harriet is recuperating from a crash-and-burn affair with Damian – aka ‘C**kweasel’ – and making ends meet as a barista when she meets two rather lovely men.

Tom is a regular at the café, and seems like such a nice guy. Smooth-talking DJ Richard is older, but in great shape – a real silver fox.

An impossible choice

Deciding to take a chance on both of them, Harriet doesn’t realise at first that she is actually dating father and son. Tom and Richard aren’t on speaking terms, and don’t share a last name – so how was she to know?

By the time everyone finds out, both Tom and Richard are truly, madly, deeply in love with Harriet, and she’s faced with an impossible choice.

But as the battle for her affections intensifies, ‘C**kweasel’ makes an unexpected reappearance and begs her to give him another chance…

About the author

Author and screenwriter Simon Booker writes crime novels and prime-time TV drama for the BBC, ITV and US TV. He is also Writer in Residence at HMP Grendon. His TV credits include BBC1’s Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Holby City and The Mrs Bradley Mysteries; ITV thrillers The Stepfather and The Blind Date; and Perfect Strangers, the CBS romantic comedy starring Rob Lowe and Anna Friel.

Simon lives in London and Deal. His partner is fellow crime writer and Killer Women co-founder Mel McGrath. They often discuss murder methods over breakfast. Three’s A Crowd is his first contemporary fiction novel.

Now read the opening pages of Three’s A Crowd…


What would happen if an estranged father and son fell in love with the same woman? It’s not something I’d considered – until it happened to me. Who would win? Could there be a winner, or would the whole thing end in tears and sick?

If you’d asked these questions a few months ago I’d have told you to stop being an idiot, but life has a way of teaching us lessons we don’t want to learn. Especially when it comes to what I can only describe as my father.

‘If you love someone, set them free. If they don’t come back, hunt them down and drown them in a sack.’

I think he was joking when he sent that text on the day Mum left in search of ‘some space’ but given his oddball
sense of humour, I can’t be certain. We haven’t spoken for a year. Our last phone call was typical.

‘Are you blaming me for your mother’s behaviour?’

‘No, Dad, but let’s face it – you are difficult to live with.’

I heard him light a cigarette before uttering the harshest insult in his lexicon – the B- word.

‘Don’t be boring, Tom. You want to know what’s difficult to live with? Haemorrhoids. Me, I’m a day at the beach.’

If you think my father sounds a zillion years old, Jewish and American you’d make his day but he’s none of the above. Truth is, he’s more Cricklewood than Hollywood but as a fan of Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David he sometimes likes to mimic the way they speak.

Nudging fifty, he’s, like, six foot tall – a fedora-wearing silver fox, improbably fit for a lifelong smoker and seldom seen wearing anything other than a Paul Smith suit. I once saw a woman walk into a lamppost, distracted by his bum.

‘How’s the great British musical coming along?’

His question oozed sarcasm. I can’t blame him. Two years ago I made the mistake of telling him I was writing another musical, my fifth attempt – or was it sixth? By working evenings and weekends I’d notched up four and a half songs and a patchy libretto without a satisfying arc or resolution.

The show is about dysfunctional families. God knows where I get my ideas.

My excuse for such slow progress was the day-job. Unlikely as it may seem, churning out articles for Double Glazing Monthly involves the same part of the brain needed to write a hit West End show, which means I’m out of creative
juice by the end of the working day. So sue me, as my father might say.

‘I’m hoping to finish it soon,’ I said.

‘And I’m hoping for lunch with Scarlett Johansson. How soon is “soon”?’

‘Like, end of the year.’

‘This year? Next year?’

‘This year.’

‘I won’t hold my breath.’

I’m used to my father throwing shade at me. The worst day of his life was when I beat him at tennis. I s**t you not. I was eleven. I know he thinks I’m, like, gay because, well, musicals, but I happen to be straight.

‘I’ve had a terrific idea,’ he said. ‘Depression: The Musical. What do you think?’

‘Are you OK, Dad?’

‘Never better.’ I heard him drag on his cigarette. ‘So why did you call?’

‘Mum told me she’s taking a sabbatical in Goa. She said I should look after you.’

‘I don’t need looking after. Especially by someone who thinks I’m difficult.’

‘Mate, you are difficult. That doesn’t mean I don’t, like, care about you.’

‘Care-schmare. And for God’s sake, stop saying “like” every five seconds. It makes you sound like an idiotic American schoolgirl.’ Then came the kicker. ‘And don’t call for a while. If your mother can go off the radar, so can I.’

His voice had fallen to a whisper.


No reply.


But he was gone.

That was a year ago. I phoned every day for, like, weeks. Left a dozen voicemails, maybe more. I cycled to his flat, the top two floors of a grand white-stucco house in Belsize Park, a leafy enclave for bankers who think proximity to Hampstead lends an air of intellectual respectability.

Dad bought the flat years ago, before the London property market went nuts. Lucky bastard.

The lights were on and his car was parked outside, its engine still warm, so I knew he was at home. There’s no mistaking the classic Jag – a 1964 red E-Type, number plate: RY 1. I rang the doorbell a million times. No response.

Over the next couple of months I paid more abortive visits, left scores of messages and sent dozens of emails. Finally, I gave up and I guess we’re now officially ‘estranged’.

I know he’s alive because I sometimes hear the first few minutes of his show. Every so often, at noon on a weekday, I find a pretext to nip out of the office and hold my mobile to my ear to catch him introducing the first ‘lunchtime love song’ on Silk FM. Then I know he’s OK, just being Dad.

Which is fine.

Absolutely fine.

Actually, it’s an improvement. When I turned six, he barely spoke to me for over a year, except to ask me to tell Mum something, like he’d be away for the weekend or the school said I had nits. He stopped speaking to her for that
same year – literally not a word – but never explained why.

Neither did she. Go figure.

As for Mum, I receive monthly emails from the Blue Moon Yoga Retreat on Patnem Beach along with copious instructions on how to breathe. I refrain from reminding her that I’ve been breathing fine for twenty-five years. I also
resist the temptation to ask what she’s playing at.

OK, so she too will soon hit the Big Five-O and deserves some me-time, especially after seeing her beloved LadyKabs go bust (thanks Uber!) and putting up with Dad, but leaving him alone for, like, a whole year?

I glimpsed him once, a couple of months ago, on his birthday. I was cycling past the Silk FM studios on Shaftesbury Avenue and saw him getting into a taxi. He was with a blonde woman in sunglasses.

I could pretend I was just passing, but my office is on the Embankment, in an ugly seventies block overlooking the Thames, so there’s no getting away from the fact that I was checking up on him.

God knows how things will be when he’s old and can’t wipe his own a**e. Given our history, no one could blame me for letting him rot but I won’t, even if Mum stays away forever. He may have been a rubbish dad but at least he was there, which is more than can be said for his own father, last heard of fleecing wealthy widows in Monaco and Palm Beach.

Meanwhile, there’s a pain-in-the-a**e new editor at work and no sign of Ms Right, or even Ms Right-Now. Last week, I had a haircut I didn’t need, just to feel a woman’s hands running through my hair. I had a crescent moon tattooed on my forearm for the same reason, to feel a woman’s touch. If that’s not tragic (OK, borderline creepy) I don’t know what is.

On the bright side, the barista at the New Dalston Café is worth paying over the odds for below average coffee. She’s older than me – I’m guessing mid-thirties. Her name’s Harriet. She has long chestnut hair and the most beautiful green eyes I’ve ever seen.

This morning we bantered while she sprinkled extra cinnamon on my cappuccino. Great smile, gorgeous voice.

Not gonna lie, I think she likes me.

Three’s A Crowd by Simon Booker is published by Simon & Schuster, PB £8.99. Click here for your chance to win one of 10 copies in our giveaway!