Kate Conway may seem like a minor character in The Iranian Scorpion, and she is in the sense that she does not appear often in the novel. She is a single, free-lance journalist in her mid-forties: an attractive, bright, well-connected woman with her own accommodation in a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan.
What is she doing without a man? She tells Robert Duval, the central character, when she meets him in the hotel bar, that she’s tried long-term relationships and they’re not for her. However, she’s not necessarily opposed to short-term relationships, and she evidently has a weakness for younger men. Robert is in his early thirties. Not surprisingly, they become lovers, and very good friends. He is the man she needs, and she becomes his mentor/guardian angel.
Early in the story, Kate connects Robert with her key contact in the Taliban: Vizier Ashraf, a high-ranking elder. It is Vizier Ashraf who provides Robert with access to Azizullah, a large-scale opium farmer. And it is the Vizier who gives Robert the phone number of the Taliban’s ‘agent’ in eastern Iran. (The Taliban have conflicted views on drugs: on the one hand they are opposed to drugs for religious reasons; and on the other, drugs are a convenient source of necessary funding.) The Taliban’s man puts Robert in touch with The Scorpion’s man.
Kate also provides the essential telephone link between Rustam, who knows where Robert is, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA brings pressure through diplomatic channels on Iran; this ultimately turns out to be unsuccessful.
Finally, Kate writes the charge sheet against The Scorpion via a syndicated article on Robert and Rustam’s adventures in Iran, with photographs taken secretly by Robert.
So, Kate provides several essential links in The Iranian Scorpion. She is a tough, savvy, libidinous woman! I hope you like her.