So Few Come Out

SYNOPSIS: 1969. Jonas Forbes, ‘Enquiry Agent’, is now a married man, but he’s still not got rid of that restless streak. So Vanessa, long his Girl Friday and now his wife, watches helplessly as he jumps to help Reverend Obasi find a missing son, lost in a Nigeria racked by a civil war with the secession of Biafra in 1967. The UK Foreign Office expect Jonas to do a ‘little job’ for them as Biafra slides to defeat but Jonas has other ideas and disappears into the war zone near Owerri. It’s December 1969 and both the Nigerian Federal army, poised for victory, and their Biafran opponents, are taking desperate meanures. Standing both apart and above the battlefield is the ruthless Shaidan, as much a myth as reality, waging his own hate-filled campaign of atrocities against the Nigerian government and its supporters. As fast as Jonas finds helpers, he loses them and, just as the last Biafran resistance collapses, himself falls into the hands of Shaidan. Has his mission has failed? Nobody in Britain or Africa appears able to help. Even so, a deserter from the Federal army and a disgraced sergeant out to catch him, have a part to play in the finale of an adventure which, the reader may come to recognise, can take on three different intterpretations. This thriller is set in one of the most disastrous conflicts in the 20th century, full of cruelty and heroism, endurance and deceit. It uses research into a war of such confusion that, even today, participants still argue about their roles and intentions.
EXTRACT: 'Shaidan waited until the pursuing vehicles were stretched out over 80 yards about halfway between their base and the quarry and then he ordered maximum, unregulated fire. One of Ferrets took the first hit as a mortar shell threw it over on to its side in flames. A Bedford truck ground to a halt as half its tyres were ripped to ribbons, mainly by machine gun fire. Gima Wone died as a rifle bullet entered one ear and emerged through the back of his head; his driver drove on because he couldn’t think of anything else to do – but only for ten yards before a bullet in the shoulder destroyed his control of the vehicle which was then impelled into the air by colliding with a large rock. A rocket from an RL-83 Blindicide struck a Bedford truck, destroying vehicle and eight men on board in a single ball of fire. The Browning M2 heavy machine gun now turned its attention to the second Ferret; the armoured car shuddered to a halt as all five men on board died but stayed in the vehicle as if collapsed with exhaustion. A single mortar attempt was so close that the five men in the Alvis Stewart jumped into the nearby bushes, only realising they were still exposed to attack. But Shaidan judged he’d inflicted enough damage – especially as he could expect almost immediate retaliation, perhaps from the air. The decoys had escaped without loss and were heading southwards and the rest of the Command followed them. The TK paused for twenty seconds to allow its heavy machine gun to pour death towards whoever was isolated in the stranded Bedford and nearly 200 rounds left nothing alive.'

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