Imagine a layman thrown into the world of espionage. Would he survive, especially with assassins running around trying to kill him?
With that idea in mind, I began to weave a story about a young journalist who not only is framed for murder, but is chosen to be a scapegoat in a plot to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister during a visit to Singapore.
Unlike most spy novels, my protagonist, Jet West, is an inexperienced individual with no skills. He knows a little bit of martial art, which is part of his workout regime, but he’s not a Kung Fu. He is, after all, a glossy magazine journalist; someone who lives the glitzy life. So, don’t expect a debonair character in a tuxedo or the strong, silent type. My character has a mouth when he opens it. He’s sharp-witted and full of zest.
But I wanted such a character to be thrown into a treacherous and ruthless environment (but thrilling for the reader) with a 70%-30% chance of survival. My reason? So that the reader would be reading a material that is unpredictable, to prevent you from being able to guess the next page.
Smokescreen is a thriller-action-packed-suspense. The bulk of the story takes place in Singapore. There are also scenes in Cairo, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, Indonesia, and Australia.
I always had the idea for the story, but it was not until I spent some years in Egypt working for a magazine that I felt more inspired to complete the manuscript. It’s been an adventure writing it.
While I enjoyed writing the novel, I found the reaction among many people in Singapore to be funny. Some people were afraid of the storyline because it touches on the island’s relationship with Israel. In fact, they were more afraid for me. One person said to me, “The government may not like it” while a reporter, before interviewing me, asked, “Is the novel politically sensitive?”
Then there were those who didn’t bother to read the novel, but assumed they know what it’s all about. Do they?
I spent years writing this novel. It wasn’t an easy road, but through a process of trial and error a publisher said yes. Obviously, I would have taken steps to ensure the novel is peppered with the unexpected. Surely, there’s a reason why I called it Smokescreen.
Perhaps when you’ve finished reading it, you’ll share your thoughts with me.
Jethro Westrope, a magazine journalist in Singapore, stumbles onto the scene of a murder: the beautiful Niki Kishwani directs him, in her last breath, to a digital recorder, evidence that puts Jethro’s life in danger. And, much worse, he is framed for Niki’s murder. Jethro sets out to find Niki’s killer and is drawn into a web of deception and intrigue involving officials from the Singaporean, Israeli, and American governments, each with a complex, competing, and potentially deadly agenda. Against this pulse-pounding backdrop, Jethro races to find answers and save himself —yet nothing is as it seems. He finds himself at the center of a political plot while being set up not only as a murderer but as an assassin, and something much larger than his own fate is in his hands.
Khaled Talib is a former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner. His second, thriller novel, Incognito, is scheduled to be released this year by World Castle Publishing. The novel tells the story of three mysterious specialists dispatched by the international hacker group, Anonymous, to find the Pope who is missing. Khaled is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Crime Writers Association. He lives in Singapore.
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