‘ was nominated by Shareranks.com as one of the top ten spy novels ever written. ‘Operation Saladin,’ its sequel, sees former MI6 agent Michael Vaux in Cairo working as bureau chief of a Damascus-based newspaper. But following the sudden death of Syria’s strongman, Hafez Assad, Vaux’s close friend, Ahmed Kadri, Syria’s chief armaments buyer, falls out of favor. He’s arrested by Syria’s intelligence agency [the GSD] who then demand that Vaux return to Damascus to face questions about his relationship with Kadri and his earlier suspected links to Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service.Warned by Elena Hussein, GSD’s chief of station in Cairo and Vaux’s lover, that he could face the same dubious fate as Kadri, Vaux fears for his safety and opts to quit Cairo.Enter MI6.
His former employers offer to forgive all past misdeeds in return for his accepting a special assignment: to be the principal player in Operation Saladin, an elaborate plot to help a dissident Syrian nuclear scientist to defect to the U.K. along with his top-secret dossier on Syria’s nuclear program and its stockpiles of nerve gas and other chemical weapons.But events don’t go according to plan: Dr. Nessim Said, the Syrian scientist, is shot dead in the quiet English village where he had been sent with Vaux for a few days of relaxation and surreptitious debriefings.Hope of locating the nuclear dossier evaporates with Said’s assassination. Who killed Said? Prime suspects include the Mossad, whose ‘targeted killings’ of nuclear scientists working for Arab regimes, has become a familiar pattern. But the Syrians, unaware of Said’s plan to defect, blame MI6 and in particular Vaux. An Al-saiqa [Syrian Special Forces] hit team is sent to hunt