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.
George M James is a pseudo name for the author and used for security reasons and the safety of his family. He is an expert on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in sub-Saharan Africa, a military historian and published author of 47 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. Because of the contents and startling disclosures inside GMJ Books, some authorities call them “dangerous fiction.” Yet, 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. Each GMJ Book has a large element of the truth inside it, they are well researched. They are not only good reading material but also a warning against that what is not known to the public. The GMJ Books may very well change the way you look at counterterrorism and espionage for the better. George M James’s books, both under his real name and as GMJ, are widely read among military veterans of many nations, most find them very agreeable to their conservative views.