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Former MI6 agent Michael Vaux is again asked to serve queen and country after a stint in Syria and Egypt as a newsman. Following the sudden death of Syria's President Hafez Assad, Vaux's close friend Ahmed Kadri, Syria's chief arms buyer, is arrested. Syria's security agency [the GSD] then demands that Vaux return to Damascus from Cairo. Warned by Alena Hussein, GSD's chief of station in Cairo and Vaux's lover, that he faces serious questions about his relationship with Kadri and his earlier links with the British Secret Intelligence Service, Vaux fears for his safety and opts to quit Cairo. Enter MI6. His former employers offer to forgive all past misdeeds in return for his accepting a special assignment: to play the leading role in Operation Saladin, a brilliant plot to help a dissident Syrian nuclear scientist to defect to the UK along with his top-secret dossier on Syria's nuclear arms program and details of its stockpiles of nerve gas and other chemicial weapons. But events don't go according to plan: Dr. Nessim Said, the Syrian scientist, is shot dead in the English village where he has been sent with Vaux for a few days of relaxation and surreptitious debriefing. Hope of locating Said's secret dossier evaporates with his assassination. Who killed Said? Prime suspects include the Mossad whose 'targeted killings' of nuclear engineers working for Arab regimes has become a familiar pattern. But the Syrians, unaware of Said's plan to defect, blame MI6 and, in particular, Vaux. An Al-Saiqa [Syrian Special Forces] hit team is sent to hunt Vaux down. They locate the safe house where Vaux is holed up with his bodyguards. A fierce firefight ensues and the body count is heavy.
Roger Croft is a former journalist whose reports and feature articles have appeared in numerous publications including The Economist, the Sunday Telegraph and the Toronto Star. He has also worked in Cairo where he wrote leaders [editorials] for the Egyptian Gazette.