We’re so pleased to have author Christian Beck with us today, on the tour for his upcoming release from DSP Publications, The Last Enemy. Enjoy his guest post and the teaser from the book, and then be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below.
Egypt, land of the Pharaoh’s and something much darker
“The Great Desert,” as the locals call it, is the setting for much of my first novel, The Last Enemy, an espionage thriller. I first fell in love with the sands of the Sahara when I saw Lawrence of Arabia as a young boy. Suffice it to say, that was many, many moons ago, but it stuck. And as far as backdrops, there are few greater in the world. It was the same with Egypt. Here the country dates to the time of the pharaohs. The colossal Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, the capitol, Cairo, were perfect as Monk ran around the city trying to stop the story’s antagonist. Still, it was all just scenery. I also chose Egypt because in the turmoil of the middle east, Egypt was always the mediator that staved off war. So what if the referee was gone, and worse, they were the ones inciting war?
Then there was the country’s politics which only cemented that Simon Monk’s first story had to be told there, where among the mystery and rich history there was a clear and present danger for anyone gay. Cases of entrapment followed by detention and torture against the gay community are something regularly documented by Human Rights Watch. So simply being a gay man, the country itself was as much an enemy to Monk as the madman he faced. It was a challenge because the serious moral and social injustice being done to the LGBT community simply couldn’t be left as the white elephant in the room. It had to be spoken to on some level with the weight it deserved while at the same time not detracting from the story itself. In the end, I can’t fix Egypt’s homophobic mentality, it’s a culture thing. But writing about it on some level can perhaps open a few minds. Hopefully seeing the hero rise above it all the while saving the world in the process will keep you riveted.
About the Book
Series: Ages of Influence: Book One
Length: 200 Pages
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Pre-Order Link: DSP Publications
Blurb: Highly decorated Delta Force operator and Iraq war hero Simon Monk loses everything when his romantic partner defects to Beijing after being caught selling US secrets to Chinese Intelligence. Monk is drummed out of the Army from the blowback but gets a second chance at a career when he is recruited into a covert group within the CIA.
Years later Monk’s latest assignment sends him to Cairo, where the head of station has disappeared amid a highly publicized sex scandal. But things are not what they seem. When the base chief turns up dead and the Egyptian government looks the other way, Monk and his team hunt down the assassin.
All roads lead to a ruthless and lethal cult from Egypt’s ancient past who discard every unwritten rule of espionage to win. Monk is forced to take to the shadows to find and destroy his most dangerous adversaries yet, as a chain of events threatens to ignite war in the Middle East.
Cold metal against Simon Monk’s cheek stirred him awake. He was airborne, his ears equalizing to the pressure of the plane when he swallowed. He opened his eyes, his mind began to work a little faster, clearing from the drugs. They had been shot with chloral hydrate darts, he suspected. In moments his senses had returned fully. He realized he lay on the grated steel floor of a C-130 Hercules’s cargo hold, wearing Velocitor desert boots and a keffiyeh that hung loosely around his neck. His wound had been patched, and a parachute was strapped to his back. Monk flicked his gaze to Ben, who had also awakened, but unlike Monk, his hands were bound behind his back and he was not wearing a chute.
“I’m okay,” he said before Monk could ask.
“Good evening, Mr. Monk,” a low male voice said.
The bronze giant stood straight in front of him, wearing army fatigues. “I am Hafiz Khel. I felt it was time we finally met.”
Monk eyed him with a steely gaze.
“If I had known the trouble you would cause me, Mr. Monk, I would have had you killed within twenty-four hours of stepping foot in Cairo.”
“Then why am I still alive?” Monk spat as he raised himself off the floor.
“Oh, it’s a temporary state. I want the pleasure of killing you myself,” Khel answered.
Monk wagered his life had only been spared because another “accident” involving the death of a second CIA chief would have aroused too much suspicion, and the US would use every weapon in its arsenal to investigate and retaliate.
“We have traveled enough distance from the city that it will take you at least two days to reach the coordinates I have programmed into this portable GPS.” Khel tossed the handheld unit to Monk, who caught it. “This way you will be unavailable to stop what will happen in the next twenty-four hours.”
“Your little coup to ascend to the throne?” Monk clipped harshly.
“Yes,” Khel said, unconcerned that Monk knew any part of his plans. “I will be waiting for you at that location, where we will settle this business between us,” he said. “Until then, your companion will remain with me.” A dark look crossed Khel’s face. He pulled an eight-inch knife from the sheath on his shin and suddenly drove the blade deep into Ben’s stomach. “To help motivate you.” The voice was a low growl.
Ben didn’t cry out as the blade was yanked from his gut and he fell to his knees. His shirt was immediately blood-soaked. Monk fought the urge to rush to Ben’s side. He would not give Khel the satisfaction of seeing his reaction.
“The physician here will keep him alive.”
Monk controlled himself and turned to Khel. “I am going to kill you.” His voice was cold and hard.
Khel remained unfazed. “That’s the spirit I was looking for,” he said agreeably, a pleased smile forming on his lips. “You will find no help in the desert, Monk. My men will see to that. And should you not make it to the coordinates in time, you will arrive to find your associate’s head left on a spike to greet you.”
Khel’s men blocked Monk’s path when he took a step forward. Monk felt the cold metal of a pistol gunsight dig into the side of his neck, convincing him to stand down.
Monk fought to remain calm. “May I say good-bye?”
“I think you should,” Khel said.
Monk moved to Ben’s face and bent down close to his ear. He noted that Ben’s skin had already gone cold and moist from shock. Monk’s smile was grim. “I’ll see you again soon.”
Ben gritted his teeth through the sharp waves of intense pain. His whole body was shaking now, as a foot-wide pool of blood brimmed beneath him. “I’ll be waiting,” he muttered weakly.
Khel sneered at them, reading the display of affection between the men, and the word “faggot” almost formed itself on his lips. He turned away, glowering. He gestured to one of his men, who initiated depressurizing the cargo hold and lowered the rear ramp. The vast emptiness of black sky stretched out before it.
Monk set the chronometer on his watch to forty-eight hours. As the countdown dropped to the forty-seven, he moved to the edge of the Hercules’s cargo ramp and plunged off into darkness without looking back.
Khel turned to Ben. His smile was a hollow formality. “I am a man of my word, Captain Namajunas,” he said. “You will remain alive a little while longer.”
Khel’s gaze shifted as he regarded the aged physician. “Doctor, do you know what I despise more than weakness?”
“No, Pharaoh.” The man’s voice shook when he spoke.
“Betrayal. Your role in helping secure the Americans for me is why I spared your life. You will continue to live so long as you remain useful to me. Keep this man alive. I care nothing for his comfort, only that he still breathes in the next forty-eight hours.”
“Yes, my pharaoh.” The doctor gestured to two men, who roughly dragged Ben’s limp body toward a nearby cot.
Khel moved to the end of the ramp and stared into the dark abyss. After a few moments, he closed the ramp and returned to the cockpit.
About the Author
Christian Beck saw Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia when he was a wee boy on a giant white drive-in screen in Super Panavision 70 amid the dusty Iowan cornfields, shaping his idea of what storytelling was. It stuck. Seldom does he write anything less than sweeping, epic adventures that pit his characters against some instrument or agent of death, pushing them beyond their every limit to survive. Simply put: Cinema put in words. He does that on a Surface Pro tablet sitting somewhere in the desert with his family – far, far away from those cornfields of the American Heartland.