Why a booktrail?
Written by someone who was there and who knows what he’s talking about. This book is an opportunity to travel and experience a land and a situation you will never have experienced before.
Story in a nutshell
Claymore Straker is working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen when he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. He has a choice to make – help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die.
The country is descending into civil war and soon the struggles will affect Clay’s attempts to fight to stay alive as he becomes further and further embroiled in the mess that is Yemen’s army, secret service, fighting factions and its oil
Just what is really gong on in Al Arush and why should the terrorists be asking Clay to find out?
Based on true events and very relevant today in so many ways, this is a gritty eco thriller written by an expert in his field.
Place and setting
The environment and setting are immediately captured from the very first page. The chapter one – entitled ‘ No way back from here’ take us to the Masila Plateau in Southern Yemen
The way was blocked by an ancient rockslide. Boulders the size of freight cars tilted on end formed a wall of rock thirty or more metres high. There was no way over
From the very first page, the impossibility of the inhospitable, dry , remote landscape is apparent and comes off the page in a hail of dust, heat, fear and dryness – from ‘the dead flat loneliness to the shimmering heat of the horizon’
This was the hottest place on earth and soon it would be summer. Even the Bedouin rued these months
Against such a landscape is the thrill of an situation which could soon turn into a disaster of immense proportions depending on the actions and luck of a man with a past, an oil company engineer who must work with terrorists…
The village where the disaster has originated from – Al Arush – is the place that the terrorists are trying to defend – the damage the big oil company has done to the people there is a bone of contention and there is a great deal of sympathy for their stance – not the way they go about defending it – but what they believe in Their lands are being plundered and populations including innocent children are being dehumanised and killed.
Move to San’a and Aden where the offices of Petro Tex are and the decay of the buildings is like the decay of the town –
..the row of crumbling , Communist era buildings that loomed over the port
Topic and landscape blend seamlessly for one heck of a ride. The immersion of the reader is complete with arabic numerals as chapter headings, and local dialect sprinkled throughout. A very immersive experience -linguistically as well as via the landscape.
An eco thriller with a conscience
Just what goes on in these oil rich countries. Are we bothered as long as we get the oil? What about the people whose land it is? How are they treated? Well if this book is even half true and judging by the author’s credentials it is indeed, then money really is the root of all evil.
I don’t think anyone could have got under Yemen’s skin like Hardisty has. The man survived a bomb blast in a cafe in Sana’a and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war for goodness sake. He knows the land, the people, the politics and the dark recesses of all of it and it makes for a thriller like no other.
The twists and turns abound and as we get drawn deeper and deeper into the dusty desert, the role of the oil company becomes murky. Just what is the role of the oil company? What other internal politics within the country are at play?
Conspiracy is on every page and behind every plateau….just who can Clay trust? Who should the reader trust?
One thing in particular I loved was the use of local dialect and arabic phrases dotted in the dialogue. REally added to the atmosphere and overall sense of a very different lifestyle.
What was hard to read at times was the violence – the beatings in particular but once again this was real and gave a stark and realistic impression of what would happen in a situation such as this. But even amidst the violence, the beauty of the writing shines through –
“A tendril of blood trickled from the dead soldier’s neck, a thread unravelling, scrawling a strange calligraphy onto the sand.”
Really got my teeth into this one. A great debut for a debut publisher Orenda Books.