While British forces continue their fight in Afghanistan one author has taken a look at the frequently overlooked First Anglo-Afghan War.

Michael Reeves, from Sutton, has launched his first novel, Man in the Red Jacket, set during the First Afghan War in the middle of the nineteenth century.

At the centre of the story is Hassan, the fourteen- year-old son of a British army officer and his Afghan wife.

Hassan becomes separated from his parents during a retreat from Kabul and is found by his uncle Ahmet with whom he travels to London with to look for his father.

The young teen has only a copy of The Pickwick Papers, an old letter from his uncle and a knife given to him by an Afghan warrior.

The pair begin a search for a mysterious treasure which leads two men from their homeland to follow them.

When one man is murdered Hassan’s adventures take him to the home of Charles Dickens.

Reeves, who works in a special school in London, says: “The First Afghan War is not well known in Britain. This surprised me, firstly because this war is an important part of Britain’s history, and also a part of Britain’s present role in the word. 

“I tried to imagine what it might be like for a Muslim to arrive in London in 1855, and find a completely alien land. How might Hassan react to a foreign land with a foreign faith? How far would the English and Afghan minds meet?

"But I was also shocked at the scale of the slaughter on the British army's retreat through the passes.

"This was a hugely important event at the time. Something like 14,000 soldiers and camp followers, including thousands of women and children, died of wounds or cold in the space of a fortnight. And yet we never hear of this in history lessons.

"I wanted to force together some opposites: East and West, Islam and Christianity, poverty and wealth, the city and the wilderness, Hassan and Charles Dickens. It sounds like a tall story, but I hope it works."

Reeves admits he would also like to write a sequel to see whether Hassan could settle in Victorian England.

The Man in the Red Jacket; paperback, £9.95, or e-Book, £2.99, from lulu.com; Kindle download at amazon.com.