Christian schools, invariably female, have been attacked and the women taken. Most have ended up being forcibly converted to Islam and given to the Islamist fighters. Some have been sold across the border into Cameroon as brides to whoever would pay. The prettier females have been sold to ‘the trader’, a Chadian Sheikh who would sell them into the Middle East as a concubine if the price is right, or else a brothel on the East Coast of Africa.
As their attacks become more brazen, and with the Nigerian army effectively marginalised, the fundamentalists storm an American Baptist Mission.
Three Americans are to die – the Pastor Zebediah and his wife Mary in a blazing chapel, and Duncan Nicholson, gunned down whilst trying to defend them. Two young females, Kate McDonald, an American blonde, grieving over the death of her boyfriend Bill on the night she was going to give her virginity up to him, and Helen Campbell, whose life had been troubled by drugs and selling herself to survive in the North of England, are both taken by the attackers.
Kate is offered for sale to a slave trader who intends to sell her virginity to an Arab Prince. Helen, to ensure their survival and to save her friend, gives herself to the leader of the raid at the mission and the murderer of her three friends.
Steve Case, the CEO of CounterInsurgencies Ltd, a company specialising in hostage ransoms and rescues around the world, is brought in by Bob McDonald, Kate’s father, to affect the return of the two women.
Steve’s team, the beautiful and capable Yanny from Senegal, Harry Warburton, the blue-blooded and reluctant English Lord, and Phil Marshall, the ageing laconic Australian, are tasked with bringing the women back.
Initially busy with rescuing six Western senior managers for the Exxon oil company down in the oil-rich Niger Delta, they are soon involved in Northern Nigeria. Over a period of weeks, the location of both women is ascertained – Helen in the camp of Boko Haram, and Kate in the Sheikh’s compound in N’djamena, the capital of Chad.
With the initially reluctant assistance, and later appreciation, of the Nigerian military’s assistance, ambitious plans are put in place to rescue Helen and then to move onto Chad to secure Kate’s release.
The situation with Kate becomes complicated when the Sheikh hears of the attack on the Boko Haram camp, and then when the Prince brings in armed mercenaries, primarily to deal with the Sheikh’s duplicity in conducting an auction of such a valuable asset.
A battle at the Sheikh’s compound ensues to release the trapped Nigerian girls, a hectic rush back to the airport and a standoff at the airport for the release of Kate and Fatima.
Four very different investigators, an attractive FBI special agent, an underworld police inspector, a Special Air Services anti-terrorist sergeant and a tabloid journalist are all frustrated when their own investigations into horrendous crimes are stymied by betrayal and duplicity. Unlikely collaborators from vastly different investigative worlds are drawn to each other by cryptic clues, finding that their new, apprehensive counterparts hold essential parts to a puzzle that they desperately need. What seemed so illogical beforehand now has purpose and there is the realisation that each of their investigations yields a much sought after part of a jigsaw that can only make sense if all the pieces are put together. Collectively they make progress, but knowing what the elusive pieces of the puzzle mean is as difficult as finding the pieces. The investigators are all drawn to imminent danger in a steamy, tropical rainforest, following the spore of an insidious conspiracy driven by some of the most powerful people in the country. Not all investigators will survive the hunt for a brutal juggernaut that eliminates any perceived threat with impunity. With knowledge comes power and the investigative team gain enough knowledge to seek out the coterie’s Achilles’ heel.