Steve Kemp, investment counsellor, trying to rebuild his finances and restore his integrity, and steer clear of politics, returns after a decade to the Arabian Gulf.
Reconnected by chance with his old flame Helen, their love affair re-ignites and together they stumble into a shared crisis. Now married to an older man, a diplomat in a punishment posting at the end of his career, Helen is conflicted between loyalty and desire.
Kemp is focused on financing their escape - he needs a major sale. With her husband's unwitting help, the perfect client appears. But time has run out.
Jihadists seeping back across the desert shake the country. The regime cracks, everyone looks to their own escape plan, while Kemp chases his deal as far as he must.
About the Author
John Lathrop worked for a variety of organisations in the Middle East for several years. The Desert Contract is his first novel.
A middle-aged pair rekindles an old love affair in an Arabian backwater as the Saudi regime wheezes toward collapse.There is a somewhat pleasantly antique atmosphere in this debut thriller, which follows securities dealer Steven Kemp on his trips across the causeway from Bahrain to the seedy town on the edge of the eastern Saudi oil field. Native Californian Kemp returned to the Persian Gulf when, after a questionable deal or two, Los Angeles got too hot for him. Now he's sticking to the letter of the law as he helps small-time businessmen move their investments out of the increasingly shaky Saudi kingdom. His well-ordered if not particularly profitable life starts to go off the rails. Enter Helen, the woman he ditched ten years ago. Helen, a powerfully appealing Irishwoman, is now married to Harry Laird, a commerce officer at the local American consulate. Harry's a boozer, a man years her senior with whom Kemp must do occasional business. Helen seems intent on staying loyal to Harry, no matter how great the old affair may have been, but before she can get away from Kemp, the couple is thrown into the middle of an insurrection. Some of the Shi'a population in Eastern Arabia have cast their lot in with Dr. Ali, an intellectual seeking to overthrow the corrupt Saudi royals, and the apartment building Kemp and Helen are visiting is the revolutionary headquarters. Ali, Helen and Kemp make it out alive thanks to an American helicopter, and, in the emotion of the rescue, the two fall into each others' arms. Thoroughly in love again with Helen, Kemp wants to pry her from her loveless marriage, and thanks to a fabulous business deal set up by Harry, there might be enough money to make it possible. But the deal is tied to local politics, and Kemp is in for a sad education and bitter surprise.Dry as a proper martini, providing the same pleasant effect. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 310
Published: 15th August 2008
Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 15.7 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.56
Edition Number: 1