Harry’s back! No, I don’t mean my all-time hero Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur, although that Harry will indeed be in action at the weekend when the football season gets under way again in England. (How I’ve survived since May 15, the final day of last season, I just cannot understand.)
I mean Harry Linley, the fictional Dubai-based financial executive who was the hero of the most riveting thriller I’ve read in a long time and last year’s Dubai publishing sensation, Persian Roulette.
In that novel, some readers will recall, Harry was a soldier-turned-financier who got into an awful scrape because of a cat named Bunny and a lady named Oleana.
Now Harry is the main character again in Moscow Payback, the second oeuvre in the series by author Oscar King. (That’s a nom de plume, by the way, and I still cannot reveal the true identity of the author. Gentlemen’s agreement and all that.)
The action swings from the Caribbean to London, over to Singapore, but is always focused on Dubai. One of the things I like about the Harry Linley novels is recognising the locations in the emirate where the action takes place, many of which I know well.
Harry has dinner with Oleana and friends in the Gaucho restaurant in DIFC, and has many conspiratorial meetings in the appropriate surroundings of the Capital Club.
(Christian Horvath, the sartorially accomplished general manager of the club, does not appear in the book, but surely he will put in an appearance in a later edition?)
Most shocking for me was the use to which the author puts my local cafe, the Costa Coffee in Marina Walk. This is a place I’m well acquainted with, where I often grab an espresso, where my little girl likes to take a cup of hot chocolate. Who would have thought it could be the scene of such shocking and nefarious deeds as the author describes? I’ll never regard the place in the same way again.
But my favourite character, who is more fully developed in Payback than he was in Roulette, is Detective Warrant Officer Omar Shamoon.
He is the local cop at the centre of the whole intrigue, who (unwittingly) breaks open an international conspiracy involving Iran and Russia, and finally gets his man.
He has the potential to be an Emirati Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot rolled into one, and is a well-drawn character.
Shamoon “loved being an Emirati”, even if his job often prevented him from being in national dress.
“He was always amused, whenever he walked through a mall, to notice Pakistanis or Egyptians in Emirati national attire, especially when he saw them viewing him as Lebanese or Syrian,” we’re told.
The plot fairly gallops along, until it all takes on a decidedly non-fictional turn when we learn what desperate measures are prompted by the recent fall in the oil price. I just hope they are reading, and learning, over at Jebel Ali Port.
Spoiler alert. Harry again comes unstuck because of his vulnerability to the wiles and whims of the fairer sex, but not before he has had lots of fun. His wife Nasrin – who made an appearance under an alter ego in Roulette – finally gets the upper hand.
I’m told that at least one more sequel is in preparation, in which much of the action moves to Latin America, where I’m sure Harry can get in lots of trouble.
But I just hope the centre of the plot remains in Dubai, and that Officer Shamoon remains at the thick of it.
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