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Published by Quercus, 28
June 2018. ISBN:978-1-78747-049-1(HB)
Luc Sansom used to be an MI6 agent.
Due to his excessive (but carefully controlled) gambling habits he was
dismissed and is now doing quite nicely running the Lebanese restaurant set up
by his mother. But because of his background – he fled Lebanon as a child along
with his mother and consequently speaks fluent Arabic – MI6 want him back for
one mission: to find a young Syrian boy who has escaped from the maelstrom that
his country has become. The young boy Naji has left his mother and three
sisters in a refugee camp in Turkey to make his way into Europe via Greece to
Germany where he hopes to make a life for them all. And he has something to
bargain with. He had been recruited by ISIS who had brainwashed him into
watching, even being involved in, acts of the utmost barbarity. But finally, he
can’t put up with it any more: his evil mentor Al-Munajil has announced that he
intends to marry Naji’s beautiful sister Munira. This is too much for Naji;
Al-Munajil’s evil spell is broken and he makes his way from Turkey in a people
smuggler’s boat to the Greek island of Lesbos. The boat sinks and everyone is
lost apart from Naji and a tiny baby; miraculously they are saved by a dolphin,
and that Naji and the baby are saved makes headlines. This enables Luc to
establish the boy’s name and his contact on Lesbos, a Greek psychologist called
Anastasia Kyriakos. Naji isn’t just a child on his own among the many, many
refugees trying to make their way from Syria and other countries torn apart by
civil war or devastated by poverty, he has something to bargain with. A very
clever boy, he is particularly skilled at repairing mobile phones. And while
enslaved by ISIS he picked up a deal of useful information to which access can
only be gained via his own mobile phone. This would be useful to the secret
services of the various European countries tackling the ever-present threat of
terrorism. And ISIS too would like to get their hands on Naji and his mobile.
Both sides are pursuing him. But Naji is adept at slipping through the cracks
and Luc and his friends find it difficult to track him. Al-Munajil is also
desperate to find Naji and the mobile. The pace picks up as Naji makes his way
through the Balkans and comes to a gripping climax in the forested Balkan
This is a very
gripping tale which tackles a subject rarely covered if ever in crime fiction:
the Syrian conflict and the refugee crisis. It is told both by Luc and Naji and
occasionally by Al-Munajil.
Porter has written for most national
broadsheet newspapers. He was editor of the Atticus column on the Sunday Times,
moving to set up the Sunday Correspondent magazine in 1988. He contributes
commentary and reportage to the Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and Sunday
Telegraph. He is the British editor of Vanity Fair and lives in London with his
wife and two daughters.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.