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.