Ali Karim is a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.
When so many ‘espionage-war-on-terror’ thrillers are populated by characters with a missing dimension, it was refreshing to find oneself in the cross-hairs of Seymour’s adrenaline and sweaty international thriller.
Considering this is Seymour’s 30th novel, and even by the high tide-marks of his debut Harry’s Game and 2011’s astounding A Deniable Death, his latest is without doubt, his most elegant. Ripped from our headlines, like Seymour’s last two novels, we have focus on international bad guys Iran.
When Brigadier Reza Joyberi of the elite al-Qods Brigade [aka ‘The Revolutionary Guard’] sends his young driver Mehrak, the eponymous Corporal, to Dubai on a ‘off the books’ banking assignment, the young driver gets entangled in a British Secret Service [SIS] honey-trap and is ex-filtrated to a safe house in Austria. The SIS think that Mehrak must have overheard important information as part of his job driving top officers of the al-Qods Brigade, politicians and their ilk, to and from clandestine sites [such as Nuclear plants etc] so very worthy of interrogation, before Iran makes its nuclear ambitions a reality.
Corporal Mehrak won’t cooperate until he is advised that the secret filming of his ‘liaison’ in Dubai will be released, and therefore his life in Iran, will be closed. In Austria, Petrok Kenning gets Mehrak’s attention when he agrees to Mehrak’s demand that the British ex-filtrate his wife Farideh from Iran. Getting key information from Mehrak will put the British SIS on the same level as their counterparts in Mossad and the CIA, so a great deal is riding on this operation.
To ensure deniability, private contractors are enrolled to the mission to secure Farideh, and take her out of Tehran. The only issue is that Farideh and Mehrak’s marriage has problems, as it was an arranged marriage that Farideh is not happy with. A delusional Mehrak feels that once Farideh is living with him in the West [as defectors], their marriage problems will be over. Added to this complication are the problems confronting the Corporal’s boss - Brigadier Reza Joyberi who sent him in the first place to Dubai on the unofficial banking mission, and so it goes.
Spanning London, Austria, Tehran and the Turkish border, Seymour’s tale unravels itself like the coils of a python, strong, claustrophobic, and with an understanding of the quirks of human nature that make a fast, and scary read – from a writer at the very top of his game.