The Mandrake Assignment
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Why I wrote this book
The book is firmly placed within the spy thriller genre but is completely contemporary in the context of current preoccupations of Western intelligence, namely the risks of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda gaining access to nuclear technology. Much of the action takes place in Pakistan in locations with which readers have little familiarity but which they would consider interesting and somewhat dangerous and exotic. Also, the plot combines in a unique way intelligence activities against the IRA in Ireland and jihadist terrorism, the common thread being the illegal arms trade and its ruthless practitioners.
The Mandrake Assignment is a book which slowly formed in my mind in the latter years of a busy commercial life. I have travelled widely, including an overland journey through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and India, and have spent much of my career abroad in Canada, Ireland, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Now I have had more time to write this book I realise I have, almost subconsciously, been filing away fragments of experiences and locations which I have now been able to pull together to lend authenticity to the story. Much of the story unfolds in Pakistan, and particularly in Karachi, where I lived and worked for three years.
If I had to characterise the typical readership I have in mind, it would be someone who loves spy thrillers and is looking for a story they can lose themselves in while relaxing on a summer holiday or seeking escape on a cold a winter’s evening.
SynopsisThe Mandrake Assignment is a spy thriller with an intriguing plot – full of twists and turns worthy of the best of the genre. Within the broad themes of tragedy, treachery and revenge, the story weaves together intelligence activities against the IRA in Ireland and against jihadist terrorists, the common thread being the illegal arms trade and its ruthless practitioners.
John Hunter is an intelligence officer with the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. No longer on active operations, he monitors risks of nuclear proliferation, but an alarming new threat emerges which propels him back into an operational role. The Raven, an amoral arms dealer in Pakistan, is planning his most audacious deal yet and Hunter's expertise is required. But the response to personal tragedy on both sides complicates attempts to avert a major terrorist catastrophe. Hunter seeks the truth within a labyrinth of deceit, and the murky trail leads him from his quiet life in Kent to the teeming metropolis of Karachi and the deserts of Baluchistan. The Raven simply seeks bloody revenge. The clash of personal and political motives culminates in a shocking denouement.
Much of the story’s action takes place in Pakistan, in the city of Karachi and in exotic locations in Baluchistan. The story also takes the reader to Ireland, Hungary, Holland and Austria. The author brings all these locations alive through his personal experience of them during a busy academic and commercial life. His inspirations as an author are Graham Greene and John Le Carre for their creation of atmosphere, Len Deighton for his clever plots and dialogue, and Frederick Forsyth for his sheer page-turning readability. He feels indebted to all of them for instilling in him his love for this genre of fiction.