Code Name Phoenix is the third GMJ Book and the one where the action really starts. After sabotaging the Type 209 submarines in Code Name Pour Angelique it is decided to sink a South African Navy Frigate and to do so on the open seas. Now this has not been done since World War Two and whilst it is very possible to sink a ship at its moorings by attaching limpet mines you have a problem doing so at sea unless you torpedo it or otherwise launch a conventional attack.
I don’t want to give away all the details, you can read the book if you wish, but it comes down to using a Q-ship. Is this possible in real life? Hell yes, I spoke to quite a few naval officers who confirmed my story-line and said it was a problem which is not given enough thought. At the very least such a ship would be seriously damaged if caught unawares and at close range as most modern warships have no real armour as they used to have decades ago. They fight with missiles at longer distances and the era of the gun is over. It is a fatal weakness we exploited.
The name of the book refers back to Angelique Dawson as does all GMJ Books, the names are not by chance and always have something to do with her. Why you ask? There are other reasons to do with the codes for my late wife I cannot reveal but it is the way it is and will be. In this case “Phoenix” is seen as her rising from obscurity and going on the attack and the heat is certainly on. Our heroes, the Egg Breakers, are reinforced massively by former British Special Forces lads paid for by Sir John (or the Americans, who knows) and this is where when one of my critics got it wrong. He stated, seriously, the GMJ Books are over the top and also that the characters or author (I am sure he meant both) are disdainful of other country’s forces. If he read this book and others and not only the one free book, Code Name Foxtrot, he would have seen the respect between the Egg Breakers and the British lads. You know we use military speak in the books less the usual curse words and if in that sense you say the other lad is a “tough Pommy bastard” it is actually a compliment and not an insult. I am glad to say that by far the majority of my readers are able to discern this aspect of the GMJ Books. It is not difficult to most. Over the top? Well, it is a matter of opinion and let us leave it like that. I don’t write books to please liberals and will always have those who disagree with me. I can tell you one thing, the characters will not change their views or act in any other way than what they did in the first ten books. They are what they are and what they say can be proven by any number of other books and research work. In this sense it is not fiction but historical fact.
There are three great moments in the book for me. The first is where the Egg Breakers meet and open proceedings with the South African Special Forces prayer. Now this prayer is copyrighted and I asked permission to use it before publishing the book and I am grateful to say, such permission was promptly granted by the Special Forces League. The use of that prayer was really not by chance, nothing is in the GMJ Books, they are written like that because that is what I wanted to convey to you, my reader.
The second moment to me is where Foxtrot gives the rather surprising order to cease fire when it becomes clear that the enemy cannot defend themselves anymore. Remember we are dealing with mercenaries and terrorists here (from the official viewpoint) attacking a warship without any war declared or belonging to any recognised country, they are acting like terrorists. He gave that order because he is fighting under the Egg Breaker flag which is a cross (because of their allegiance to God) and a broken egg in the corner. This flag is on the cover of the book and that too is not by chance, I asked the designer to place it there (one of the very few times I had ideas on covers). The fact that he gave that order to cease fire has to do with decency and the unwritten code of warriors and it was done on the spur of the moment, against his first instructions. It is a matter of honour.
And then there is the moment where Angelique is shot and her Casspir trying to get away with the rear tires shot out and the front wheels dragging the vehicle out of the death zone. I actually saw such an incident in real life and I see it again as I type here and the vehicle covered in grey gun smoke as the policemen returned fire all the time. It made one hell of an impression on me and I hope you will see it in your mind’s eye as you read the book. There is something romantic and yet frightening in such a sight. This incident will return in the next two books as Angelique was in a vehicle clearly marked with a red cross when fired upon by the assassination teams. To me, it was a matter of honour, you don’t fire on the Red Cross or the Green Crescent according to the rules of war and yet they did so and it will haunt them in further books. It is also noticeable to me that quite a few female readers wrote and asked me if I am perhaps insane to risk Angelique, being pregnant, to be shot. They were furious.
In my view, obviously, Code Name Phoenix is a good book. It is fast paced, historically accurate and easy to read. I loved writing it and the rest of the series and I do hope you will enjoy reading it.
Code Name Pour Angelique follows on the first GMJ Book, Code Name Vfo565. After Angelique Dawson is rescued by Foxtrot she is debriefed in Corsica (we think, not too sure) whilst the men rebuild the Ukuthula Ranch in Northern Mozambique. They are semi-retired from the Great Game but have TWEP (terminate with extreme prejudice, i.e. assassination) order against them as does Angelique. This is only expected, they helped her escape and such an insult will not be taken lightly their enemies who take a rather dim view of them.
One night they are attacked by an assassination team and the heat is on. Foxtrot and Geelslang are not going to stand back and wait to be attacked again. They decide to go on the offensive and fly to Dubai (for reasons which are not clear in the book) where they are intercepted by Angelique and Sir John, the old goat, who Foxtrot blames for the death of his first wife, Marwa. This meeting is totally unexpected and the union between Angelique and her husband, Foxtrot is emotional. They have not seen each other for almost a year and by the end of the book she confirms she is expecting the twins whom are often referred to in the books.
The name of the book refers to Angelique being back in command of the Egg Breakers (as she used to be when still working for the South African Secret Service) and the mission is on her behalf or “for Angelique” as explained somewhere in the book – the title is in French. Every GMJ Book’s name has something to do with Angelique and it is not by chance. I wrote it deliberately like that and I am proud of the fact that she is a woman, a mom (to be, up to book 11 where her twins are toddlers) and in her forties for most of the series. This is a lot more realistic than the twenty year old plus spymasters we find in Hollywood. And let no one deceive you, Angelique Dawson-Foxtrot is dangerous and always wins. Her battle of wits (or of the sexes) with Foxtrot is never ending and at times entertaining but behind that is a very dedicated Afrikaner girl with her own views on history, life and her place in a marriage. She will do what is necessary and she is special, one of a kind.
The best moment in the book, for me anyway, takes place where Angelique reveals her masterplan to set up the Western Agencies by capturing a mothership with the detained Muslim radicals on-board and gave Sir John, the old goat, almost a heart attack. He fell into the trap completely, she had outwitted him from the beginning. Interesting we first hear about this plan in GMJ Book 9, Code Name Sanford, where she vaguely refers to it. Her masterplan is to use the modern and powerful South African Navy to their full potential. The Navy plays a major part in keeping the Western snatch teams away by harassing Western nuclear submarines trying to land Special Forces to conduct operations. Her plan comes down to humiliation, simply, if the West is caught with the detained lads, by the surface fleet searching for the mother ships, they will never be allowed by weak politicians to attempt such operations again. To me when I wrote the book this explains Angelique Dawson perfectly. She plays chess with human beings in the Great Game at a level which few can comprehend and thinks five steps ahead. Many times in the Series, as you read the next book you suddenly click, ah, that is what our Mrs Dawson was up to in the previous book and suddenly it becomes clear why she is rated the top spymaster in that sphere. The scenario by the way is not really fiction, such an event will be a major embarrassment for the West with the liberal press going all out to score points. It is a major consideration for many not to conduct such operations.
Without giving the plot away too much it is decided at the Dubai conference that Angelique will take command of the Egg Breakers, now helping the West with snatches and being ambushed from the side by the assassination teams to undo her own masterplan. To do that the Type 209 submarines of the South African Navy needs to be sabotaged and reduced in numbers so that the West’s submarines can operate freely again. Foxtrot and Geelslang heads south to do exactly this and how they do it, at the Naval Base in Simonstad, caused a few comments. Enough to say though that the methods of entry and the explosives used on one submarine in dry dock is exactly what happened in an exercise I was told about. The “saboteurs” got in and planted the mock explosives, hence it is realistic, and it will work. Furthermore Foxtrot takes revenge on the fellow who ordered the detention on Angelique in the previous book and who tried the pre-emptive strike on Ukuthula Ranch.
The assassination of this fellow by Foxtrot caused me a few anxious moments as I feared revealing too much on how such an attack should be done. I feared I may have revealed knowledge which is dangerous and subjected the book to friends, a former Special Forces Officer and South African Secret Service Officer, for review. Both said go ahead, the knowledge is already out in the open because of a rather silly reality television show. And so I did. I was also told the tree across the road from where the scene takes place was searched by the authorities afterwards (I find this highly amusing). Another reader said he cannot drive on that road without scanning for the ambush site and where Foxtrot and Geelslang were shooting from. Such feedback is really nice to me, thank you for that but remember it is fiction, it never actually happened.
The book is like all GMJ Books dynamic, it is the start of the Egg Breaker War between Angelique’s men (the Egg Breakers whom she commanded before and voted her in as leader) and the South African Secret Service, backed up by Special Forces, to protect the Muslim radicals against attack and hence keeping the Muslim Truce in place. Angelique is also never alone from now on. She is always escorted by bodyguards from DGSE, the French Espionages Service under command of her French (or Frog thug as Foxtrot calls him) Minder who plays a larger role as the story unfolds. For instance in GMJ Book 5, Code Name Dawson, he meets the love of his life, an Afrikaner rancher girl and friend of Foxtrot. But that is another day’s reading.
Code Name Vfo565 is the first book of the GMJ Series but not the first in history for the characters. That honour would go to Code Name Foxtrot which takes place in 2004 or eight years before Code Name Vfo565 which takes place in 2012. Why you may ask did I not then wrote Code Name Foxtrot first? It is a good question and comes down to the Series developing by itself. When I started writing the GMJ Books I had no idea, really not, that it would grow to so many books. I thought the Egg Breaker War would be of more interest to the reader and hence started with Code Name Vfo565.
The name of the book refers to an actual operation which I am aware off and in this context it was the code flashed to activate the sleeper agents in 1998 after the US Embassy attack in Kenya. By this time, in 1998, the Egg Breakers were already established and operating independently from South African Secret Service control. As you read the books you will find that the Apartheid Era National Intelligence Service was disbanded and replaced by the South African Secret Service & National Intelligence Agency in 1995 or a year after Mr Mandela took over. The old spy networks were disbanded and by 1997 / 1998 they were creating new ones and incorporated the Egg Breaker networks and people like our heroine, Angelique Dawson, took command of operations. And she caused havoc.
I am asked often if Angelique exists. Yes, she is based on a few female agents I knew personally as is Foxtrot and Geelslang, the other two main characters found in every GMJ book. They too are based on Special Forces members I knew. Be clear that the GMJ Books are fiction but they are based on a large part of reality and you can bet your last dollar whatever these characters say in the books, whatever statements they make, I am able to prove. There went a lot of research into this and it is not by chance. It is written like that probably because I wrote many non-fiction books on counter terrorism, law and business under my real name. The shadowy world the characters live in is also not unknown to me and let us leave it like that. If you want to know about Special Forces operations and spy stuff in Southern Africa (applicable worldwide) then read these books. They are as real and historically correct as is humanly possible to recreate.
The first thirty pages of Code Name Vfo565 is tedious according to some feedback as it takes place in London where the premises of the Series is discussed by Sir John McElroy (a recurring character representing MI6). I do not agree that it is tedious; this part was needed to inform the reader what is happening down south. There is a saying that truth is stranger as fiction and that deeds are more valuable than words. Those thirty pages is an eye opener for many and it is what many intelligence analysts from Mossad to the CIA to the French, DGSE are saying. They believe that the new South Africa is not a Western supporter on the War on Terror no matter what the politicians say officially. And they have a point if you look at the deeds more than the words as set out in Code Name Vfo565. Sir John summarises very nicely why it is virtually impossible for Western Special Forces to operate inside Southern Africa without invitation and it all comes down to the local Super Power, South Africa, being able to prevent it. We went deep into history to explain this phenomenon and how risky such an undertaking will be and why the Egg Breakers suddenly became the trump card. They were already established, Christian and Western in outlook and not impressed with the new South African policies of supporting Muslim radicals and this starts the Egg Breaker War which is described fully in Code Name Pour Angelique, Code Name Phoenix, Code Name Lise and then Code Name Dawson. We will discuss the books one by one in the coming weeks.
Code Name Vfo565 becomes a lot more interesting once past Sir John’s explanation which are needed, I repeated his explanations in every book. Why? Simply because many readers buy a book on its cover (yes it is true) and then you would need to understand the context and hence the few pages explaining where the Egg Breakers come from and what is happening down south. But it is only in Code Name Vfo565 where we go into great detail, in the rest of the books it is only a page or two. The books are purposely written to be read on its own, it would be great to read the entire series but it can be read one by one. Therefore I had to repeat myself and the books also refer to each other.
What is Code Name Vfo565 about? I don’t want to reveal everything and give the plot away too much but it starts with Sir John realizing they need control of the Egg Breakers to snatch Muslim radicals and bring them to mother-ships waiting outside territorial waters where they can be interrogated at leisure. This happens in the real world, by the way. Since they cannot do so themselves the Egg Breakers are recruited as mercenaries to help and they do, Geelslang and Foxtrot snatches two Muslims and deliver them but they also report every move to Angelique Dawson, the bona fide head of counter terrorism for the South African Secret Service. She plays a central part in every book. The entire GMJ Series is about the love story between Angelique Dawson and her premier undercover operator, Major Geoffrey Foxtrot. For years the two of them looked at each other with goat’s eyes as Geelslang describes it and for years Geelslang wondered what exactly Angelique was up to. As the books progress it becomes clear what was going on and the way she controls her star agent is a trademark of the series with a battle of wits between the sexes which she always wins or nearly always. Angelique is not an easy woman to appreciate for a man like Foxtrot who has decidedly conservative ideas on the subject. She is dangerous too giving Foxtrot hell all the time in the nicest possible way as happens between people who dearly loves each other and does not know it yet.
The books are written by Foxtrot many years later recalling their adventures and how they finally became souls so it jumps around in time. I never had a reader complaining about this. To me the highlight of the book is not the Special Forces operations which are as genuine in tactics as it gets but where the two of them finally admit they are in love on a beach in Southern Mozambique. It is the special moment of the entire series and she is detained (a nice word for kidnapped and tortured) soon after by her organisation and accused of being a double agent for DGSE. Foxtrot rescues her and that is what Code Name Vfo565 is about, the Egg Breaker Program, why the new South Africa became what it did and the love story between Angelique & Foxtrot with Geelslang in the background. It is a great read and well worth your time. I do hope you will enjoy reading this book as much as I had writing it. It was fun.
I decided to write a blog about each book in the GMJ Series which I will link to the website under each book. The purpose is to give a bit more background and to tell you what the idea behind the book originally was. I hope it will bring you some answers as I noted that many asked the same question from your emails (and I answer every email, thank you for taking the time). However before I do that, over the coming weeks, I thought it best to first talk in general about the books, I hope you will enjoy reading them – they are great stories based on actual events. I loved writing them for you to enjoy and want them to be read.
I never thought I would write fiction as I am known as a non-fiction writer although it is debatable how far the fiction goes in the GMJ Books. The characters are based on real people I know personally. The historical events in the books did take place. Where the characters mention anything of historical significance it can be traced and researched. If for instance they say that thirty thousand Afrikaner women and children died in British Army concentration camps during the Second Anglo Boer War you may be sure it did happen exactly as described and that the Afrikaner dislikes anything English because of it.
When Winston Churchill is ridiculed by the characters (often) you will find in history that nothing they say is not written in other books already. He did claim to have swum the “Mighty Apies River” when it was all of six feet wide creating a little known joke in South Africa about his self-enhancing claims. He did beg the US for help in both wars and he was of American extract. He did receive top secret dispatches in the nude whilst bathing during his time as First Lord of the Admiralty in the First World War and did indeed walk around nude dictating state letters in both wars. And he was drunk at cabinet meetings much to the disgust of senior army generals who wrote about it in their diaries. This is well documented but not in the normal history books he caused to write about himself, obviously not. In his own history books he came out rather better than what others thought of him then or now.
It is also logical that the characters, who claim a lot of knowledge in history simply because I have such knowledge, will know such things and mention it to themselves. The fact that the British Royal Family have not lost a man in combat (not flying accidents, combat) in four hundred years is well-known and shows you, logically, that they could not have been exposed to any danger no matter what the sympathetic UK press says about their efforts. If they were exposed to danger as would be anyone else serving honourably, where are the bodies? It reminds me of the old American Civil War cry “Show me a dead cavalryman.” There are none and hence the conclusion stands. The characters it must be remembered are typically Afrikaner. They are not impressed with royalty whom they refer to as leeches or parasites, a view shared by millions.
It is such things which make the GMJ Books different. They are not conventional and not the least bothered about standing public opinion. The view that the Israeli Army has lost its discipline (shock and surprise from the readers who only reads what Hollywood publishes) is unfortunately also true. There are several books written by ex-SAS members working as security contractors describing how they and their American (how ironic) television crews were attacked and physically beaten by Russians (emigrants of the 1990s) wearing the proud Israeli Army uniform. It is a disgrace and it does not bode well for a country which can afford to lose only one war and be out of existence. Rather see my books as a warning instead of an attack on Israel as one fellow maintained it was. Closing your eyes is not going to help your cause much anyway. Many of GMJ Books are in fact warnings as is Code Name Odette or GMJ8. It shows clearly the threat of penetration agents in Western Intelligence and the trouble which Snowden caused with his betrayals. This is so important that GMJ 9, Code Name Sanford and the new upcoming GMJ 10, Code Name Honey Bee, deals with the same subject. It is a nightmare scenario keeping counter terrorism heads awake at night.
I also had a reader complaining bitterly about the negative comments made by Major Foxtrot on the state of the British Army in Iraq in 2004 (Code Name Foxtrot). Well, if you read any of the hundreds of books written by fairly senior officers from colonel rank downwards you will find they say the same. If you read any of the many hundreds of books written by American officers, you will find they say exactly what the characters say and if you research the incidents mentioned you will find it happened as described. For example the illegal jailbreak out of an Iraqi jail of two arrested SAS members for the murder of an Iraqi policeman etc. took place. Then the shock that the SAS is not considered as the premier Special Forces Unit in the world anymore, the US Navy SEALS in Team Six replaced them as did Delta Detachment.
This is not fiction but reality and yes it is easy to look back and point fingers. However since it is historically correct it will be in the books and that is the GMJ Books for you. They are well researched and where I am wrong I am quick to change it. For example in GMJ Book 2, Code Name Pour Angelique, I said the Soviet made Dragunov fired the same round as the AK47 and I was clearly wrong. A former Special Forces officer immediately pointed out it uses a longer cartridge and it was a stupid mistake (his kind words). I changed the book and will keep on doing so when proven wrong. The characters also give credit where is due. It is not a matter of being scornful - even where the British Army is said to be under equipped they also say they are still the same army which never loses a war. The respect is there if you are capable of reading between the lines and understanding the subtle humour.
My books are about reading pleasure and for you as reader to know what your read is true even if the storyline is fiction. All the Special Forces techniques described are correct and well-known to most with an interest in the subject. It is not by chance that I decided to let the books play off in Sub Saharan Africa – I know the area and the countries and how counter terrorism work here better than most. This knowledge was transferred to the GMJ Books. If you read about a river or a hotel or a town, you can go there and see in your mind how the book plays off. I was in all those places before and have many years of experience in this field. The summary of the new South Africa as described in the first book by Sir John McElroy regarding the unofficial attitude about Muslim Radicals are not wrong but unproven, obviously. There are many intelligence analysts worldwide who will tell you that is their own views on the subject and they are worried about it. The existence of the “Muslim Truce” is also suspected but unproven for many years now and the links between South Africa and the London Tube bombers and the so called “white widow” is true and proven. All the premises and events where the SAS Manthatisi sunk the NATO squadron in the exercise are true. You are not dealing with a normal African country when it comes to South Africa.
Then there are those who asked me how good the South African Special Forces are since they have never heard of them before. As any reader will know, the two male characters, Foxtrot & Geelslang, first served in the Police Special Forces and then were exported to the Army Regiments in the books. In short, to answer the question and I will write a blog on the Units in the future, they are as good as the US Navy SEALS or DELTA or the British SAS from where they originally came. Just because you never heard of them and they happen to be in Africa does not mean they can be dismissed as Mickey Mouse operators as another fellow maintained and then refused to debate the issue with me. Anyway, don’t take my word. Go and research “South African Special Forces or Recce or Task Force” on Google and talk to Special Forces members anywhere in the world and you will find the remarkable respect for them in that community. In Africa there is nothing better and statistically they are more elite than the US Navy SEALS with a higher Selection dropout rate than almost any Special Forces Unit anywhere in the world. From a hundred thousand men who tried to pass Selection only about seven hundred qualified over a period of forty years and that ends all arguments as far as I am concerned. They have all the usual Special Forces skills and a lot more because they know their area of operations better than anyone else. For example, the use of ski-boats instead of rubber ducks as described first in GMJ Book 1, Code Name Vfo565. The South African Special Forces prayer quoted in GMJ Book 3, Code Name Phoenix (I asked permission to use it before publishing) exists. This is not fiction but facts. Even so, it is as I keep on saying in the books, a matter of horses for courses. It is not about who is the toughest but who is the most effective in a particular sphere and in Africa you don’t get any better.
I am indebted to every reader and everyone who contacts me. Thank you for your support and the nice feedback I get on the love story between Geoffrey Foxtrot and Angelique Dawson. They are in many ways what happened to me and my late wife and there are codes in every book which my late wife will recognize. It is not by chance, I wrote it like that to honour her. Less than five persons in the world (her close friends and family) know the exact codes as I gave it to them with every book. This is my dream and I am living it. I am grateful for your making it possible.
George M James is a pseudo name for the author and used for security reasons. He is an expert on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations in sub-Saharan Africa, a military historian and published author of more than 50 books. In the GMJ Series, you will learn about Covert Operations, Special Forces techniques, current political analyses and military history not known outside the select few. Every GMJ Book is based on historical fact and often what is revealed in a GMJ Book is published by the mainstream media a short while later. Many of the GMJ Books are used as training material by Police Forces (SWAT) across the world. Note please that GMJ does not claim to have served in South African Army or Police Special Forces.