Reading A Deniable Death by Gerald Seymour, about infiltration across the Iraqi / Iran border, a story of ‘hides’ or CROPS (Covert Rural Observation Posts), IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and of Baxter and Foxy in swamps, hating each other’s guts, of Abigail Jones or Alpha Juliette their ‘pick up’ and so many other people and hitherto unknown aspects of the vicious wars that are playing themselves out in the Middle East made me wonder if I could bear to read it all till the bitter end – without turning to the very last page to try to find out what was going to happen to these two guys. And what was going to happen to the Engineer, the object and target of all these goings on, the man whose wife is dying of cancer, who has two small children, and who is responsible for the most ingenious ways of causing death through the manufacture of ever improving IEDS that kill soldiers in Iraq, maybe soon in Iran as well, and who are subsequently given a heroe’s welcome, dead in their coffins, when they are brought back to England and are carried through the town of Wootton Bassett, now the Royal Wootton Bassett.
This is intelligence, counterintelligence and the sheer secrecy of a mission to kill at its best: everyone is human, all have their weaknesses, their attractions and their less attractive sides, including the target. The mission is however deniable, and so all necessary preparations, actions and follow-up actions are deniable – if the mission fails then no one will be blamed, prisoners will not be rescued; ‘extraction’ will only be at the Iraqi side of the border, not from Iranian territory where the Engineer lives in an army camp, at the edge of a morass. The morass is fly infested, full of otters, birds and even snakes and this is Baxter and Foxy’s observation post, where they lie next to each other for days on end, observing and listening in order to find out the destination of the Engineer and his wife, when she goes for treatment abroad.
Did I stop myself from reading the last page before I atually got there? No, I admit, towards the end and in order to be able to go to sleep I simply had to know before I could read the last agonising pages when time seemed to run out for everyone, including my own as it was well past my bedtime!
There are lots of excellent reviews of this book all over the web – here’s one that also gives a bit of background on Gerald Seymour, who as a television news reporter covered the middle east and Vietnam. He clearly knows what he is writing about, as well as being an excellent writer.