The Brown Envelope Club
After the first Gulf War, the sheiks, emirs and kings of the six oil-rich countries that made up the Gulf Co-operation Council, emboldened by the rout of the Iraqi army, were strutting more arrogantly than ever. They harshly and ungraciously treated those that had helped them emerge from the desert into glittering palaces and skyscrapers. Resentment grew and in short order an increasing number of people with different causes and agendas were looking for revenge.
The Brown Envelope Club was formed by one such disaffected group of military contract officers. Having been unceremoniously kicked out of their comfortable jobs from around the Middle East, they wanted to get even. And in Baghdad, an angry dictator also sought retribution.
The above is all true.
From the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, to a lush tropical island in the Caribbean and on to the wet bleakness of a north Devon winter, the Brown Envelope Club traces two stories of revenge, the strands of which came together in the strangest tale of what might have been…
The Iraqi Deception
In the lead up to the second Gulf War, Saddam Hussein has acquired through the Russian mafia a sizeable quantity of biological weapons, specifically weapons grade anthrax. As yet undiscovered by the allies’ monitoring agencies, he is concerned that its discovery might bring about an attack on his country and so arranges for it to be hidden outside Iraq.
The allies invade anyway and in the chaos following the conflict, the anthrax vanishes. British Intelligence is determined to find and secure the stockpile but they are up against criminal enterprises and nation states that would equally like to possess the anthrax for their own ends.
The stage is thus set for a calamitous showdown, which will play out in the Yellow Sea and the back streets of Hong Kong.
This is a fast moving story that takes the reader through the Middle East, Russia and South East Asia. Barker seamlessly weaves fact and fiction into a powerful page-turner at the end of which one is left asking; did this really happen?
The Maritime Betrayal
The oceans are being plundered. Increasing public understanding has led to some governments prohibiting the slaughter of various species of whales, sharks, dolphins and tuna, at least in their territorial waters. But demand for these precious creatures continues unabated and criminal organisations now ruthlessly control much of the supply chain. So the hunting and explosive harpooning of whales, the violent and bloody hacking off of fins from live sharks, the culling of thousands of dolphins with clubs and spikes and the driving and entrapment of thousands of blue fin tunas continues relentlessly and unchecked, leaving these magnificent animals swimming inexorably towards extinction.
A number of organisations have pitted themselves against the dark forces involved in these barbaric trades but with limited success. However, following the bloody assassination of her conservationist father, one woman determines that the crime syndicates have to be stopped. And since peaceful protests have been totally ignored by the crime lords, Claire Armstrong confronts them in the only language they understand – violence, a concept in which she is both highly trained and experienced.
With the help of some similarly experienced companions and a number of ferocious entanglements, it becomes clear to Claire that there is just one criminal enterprise that is actually controlling all the others. Fronted by the highly respectable and well-established Campbell’s Trading Company, headquartered in Hong Kong, Sir Iain Campbell heads the all pervading, sinister and little known criminal organisation, Demesne.
Each is determined to destroy the other but in the meantime, the wellbeing of the oceans and the magnificent creatures within them is at stake.
The Sapphire Stratagem
Madagascar – rich in minerals, precious metals and one of the world’s richest repositories of fine gems, particularly Sapphires. As the country stabilises following a long period of unrest, mining rights are restored and those that have supported the island nation over the years are receiving favoured status and the prime concessions.
The opportunities presented come to the attention of Marc Chatagnier, Chairman of The Chatagnier Corporation, a large family run conglomerate with roots going back to the early days of the Unione Corse crime syndicate. Already involved in the extraction and sale of ‘blood’ diamonds and other gems, the family’s business interests are as diverse and murky as they are questionable. What is without question, however, is Chatagnier’s reputation for greed and ruthlessness.
Chatagnier determines to totally monopolise the country’s Sapphire mining and export operations and sets about destabilising and replacing the new government with his own appointed puppet regime. In exchange for his patronage, support and generous handouts, the new government will cancel all previously granted concessions and leave him a clear field to operate unhindered, turning a blind eye to the brutal and repressive conditions that he imposes on his mining labour force.
However, another predator from the Russian Mafia is also eyeing up Chatagnier’s enterprises with greedy and hostile intent and it is not long before the two forces are locked in bloody, corporate combat.
Private adventurers engaging in regime change and attempts to destabilise sovereign nations does not sit well with the international community and personal feuds between Mafiosi, past and present, calls for intervention. British Intelligence operative, John Styles, is tasked with investigating the corruption and bringing down its leaders.
From a freezing winter in St Petersburg to the foul smelling waterways of Bangkok and the idyllic serenity of the Maldives to the sweltering rain forests of Madagascar, the action builds to a final showdown in rural England and a Henley Royal Regatta that nobody will ever forget.
Also by Charles Barker...
A collection of short stories from around the world and featuring the cities and experiences of the author in his role as a hospitality professional.
The Adventures of
Godfrey and Oliver
A children's story concerning the adventures of two families belonging to Godfrey, a Gorilla and to Oliver, an Orangutan.