REVIEW BY JOHN CAIRNS, Author/Editor – 07 February 2017

 

In The Iraqi Deception, a fictional romp through troubled nations and across turbulent seas, Charles Barker deftly solves one of modern history's great mysteries, namely the whereabouts of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's elusive weapons of mass destruction.

 

Rarely does an author handle the often-sombre subject of global security in such a rollicking, entertaining manner. As the real world's version of big-time politics increasingly defies logic, Barker shows a refreshing knack to make sense of complex events while electrifying his readers.

 

Invariably, Barker delivers the right dosage of details to maximize a sense of reality. When the story opens with smoky, sinister and yellow clouds of deadly gas rolling slowly over the Iraqi marshes, "propelled by an innocent and gentle early morning breeze", who can avoid a jolt of terror and an urge to leap up and run? The villains smile in ways that are "distinctly crocodilian" and, in a twist on biblical wisdom, they strive to "do unto others before they do it unto you". Dictators announce sinister intentions and then bask in applause "while looking to see if anyone was showing the slightest sign of unsupportiveness or reticence".

 

With amiable heroes, dangerous evil-doers, humorous moments, double-agents, defectors, tumbles, thrills, tragic ironies and vivid visits to troubled territories, Barker spins his tale into a first-class thriller. No one who has visited Asia's leading cities can resist smiling as the story nears its climax amid gunfire and with a cross-harbour race between two of Hong Kong's famous, but normally lethargic, Star Ferries.

 

Some useful lessons emerge too. For example, "Even in today's Russia, it is unwise to upset the elite." That's a travel tip to treasure.

 

As Barker well knows, aspects of the world constantly change, yet others never do. Hence, "walls may have fallen, but they still have ears...."

 

Without a doubt, readers rapidly will recognize that reaching for "The Iraqi Deception" represents a brilliant decision.

 

-- John Cairns, author/editor, Canada