The Iranian Scorpion


My fourth novel (another thriller) has just been published.



In brief, this novel involves an undercover agent of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), who with the help of an attractive freelance journalist and a shadowy Taliban official learns the cultivation of the opium poppy in Afghanistan and how to convert opium to heroin.  He follows a heroin shipment into Iran and traces it to New York City where it has been sent by The Iranian Scorpion.  When a bust is made in New York City, The Scorpion orders the agent captured and executed.  Will the agent’s connections  including his father (a US Army general),  the journalist, a 15 year old Afghan boy and some Iranian dissidents be able to save him from execution?

The full synopsis follows: 

Robert Duval, an agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency, volunteers for a reassignment after years of trying to stem the stream of drugs across   Grande.  He is sent toAfghanistan with a mission of developing a strategy to stifle the flow of drugs to Iran and on to the US.  Robert meets Kate Conway,  a freelance journalist in Kabul, and she introduces him to Vizier Ashraf, a shadowy figure in the Taliban, who also has a religious interest in reducing the cultivation of the opium poppy.  In preparation for the Afghan assignment, Robert has developed fluency in Pashto, and, at the urging of the vizier, he disguises himself as Abdullah, as a migrant peasant farmer.  In the village of Nad-e-Ali, in Helmand province, Robert finds work on Azizullah’s large poppy farm.  Under Azizullah’s direction, Robert learns how the poppy is cultivated and its liquid opium is harvested.

After the harvest, Robert, Azizullah and three other field hands take the opium cakes to the owner of a make-shift conversion ‘factory’.  There is a violent falling-out over price, and that night, Azizullah, Robert and the field hands raid the factory, killing the owner and his helpers.  Robert questions the owner’s fifteen-year-old son, Rustam, who knows the chemical conversion processes.  Rustam is taken captive; the chemicals and equipment of the ‘factory’ are hauled away to Nad-e-Ali.

A new ‘factory’ is established in Nad-e-Ali, and Rustam, chained to Robert, begins to convert the opium to white heroin.  Men from Rustam’s village attempt to retake the factory.  They are repulsed, but Rustam fears that his old neighbours will kill him for the shame he has brought on his village, if he returns to it.  As an inducement for Rustam to stay in Nad-e-Ali, Robert persuades Azizullah to find Rustam a wife.  Rustam is married to Padida, a twenty-three-year-old war widow.

General David Duval, Robert’s father, is frustrated with his assignment to Pentagon logistics, and at the urging of his young girlfriend, he accepts an assignment with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  In Tehran he joins an IAEA delegation, which is reviewing the Iranian nuclear program.  David meets ‘Lisa’, the secretive widow of an anti-government activist. ‘Lisa’ is well connected in the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, and is not averse to using her body to obtain evidence of the duplicity of the Iranian government.  She provides David with test data showing that an enrichment level of 42% U-235 has been reached, as well as the wiring diagram of a prototype nuclear weapon.

Azizullah, Robert and Rustam cross the fortified border into Zabol, in southeast Iran, with 15 kg of heroin to find a buyer.  They are able to sell it, but Rustam protests that they have failed to find the principal buyer: The Scorpion.  On a subsequent exploratory trip, Robert and Rustam find that The Scorpion is actually the provincial governor, and they make arrangements for the sale of 25 kg.  Azizullah joins his employees for the sale, which takes place in the governor’s palace in Zahedan, the provincial capital, and is attended by The Scorpion and General Khorhoushi, the commander of the Republican Guard in the province.

Robert is able to learn where the consignment of heroin has been shipped.  He reveals his true identity to Rustam, and persuades the boy to accompany him on a trip to Kerman and Bandar Abbas, where the destination and method of shipment of the heroin are discovered.  Robert advises his boss, James, at the DEA, of the destination: a carpet dealer in New York, who is the Scorpion’s cousin.

The Scorpion guesses that it was Robert who had his cousin arrested, and he orders General Khorhoushi to find the agent.  Robert is captured and imprisoned, but Rustam eludes capture.  Rustam uses Robert’s phone to advise Kate and James of Robert’s capture.  The Scorpion is concerned that if Robert is released, he will inform Tehran of the governor’s involvement in the drugs trade.  Robert is tried by a kangaroo court, found guilty of ‘espionage’ and is sentenced to death. Tehran officials, notified by the US government of The Scorpion’s drugs trafficking, demand that Robert be released to them at once.  The Scorpion sends Tehran a premature message informing them that Robert has been executed. 

David Duval is informed of his son’s execution, and decides to take vengeance.  ‘Lisa’ supplies him with a ‘sticky bomb’.  He travels to Zahedan, and attaches the bomb to what he thinks is the governor’s limousine.  He learns, instead, that he has killed General Khorhoushi.

(You’ll have to read the novel to learn how it ends.)

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