I know I’m not supposed to have favorites as editor here at Exhibit A Books, but the cover and packaging of Tom Vater’s books are among the best across the entire Angry Robot family. It certainly helps that the stories between the covers are just as cool. In this guest post, he talks about secret wars and his inspiration for his latest book, The Man With the Golden Mind, available now from Exhibit A Books.
From 1965 to 1973, as the US waged war in Vietnam, a much quieter but no less deadly conflict was fought in neighboring Laos. As President Kennedy announced that the US respected Laos’ neutrality and had withdrawn all its troops, the CIA trained a mercenary army of 30.000 men and children of ethnic minorities and sent them into battle against the Laotian communists. The heart of the American secret war was Long Cheng, a top secret airbase deep in the Laotian jungles, and for a time the world’s busiest airport with more than 400 daily flights distributing troops, munitions, drugs and food across the north of the country. In the later stages of the conflict, the US carpet bombed Laos, killing tens of thousands of Laotians and leaving tons of unexploded ordnance in the soil that continue to claim hundreds of victims a year.
With my brother, film maker Marc Eberle, I co-wrote a feature documentary on the secret war, The Most Secret Place on Earth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8cIki7awN8) and had the opportunity to meet some of the players involved in the conflict. This intimate relationship with an exquisite slice of 20th century secret history led me to use the secret war as historical backdrop for The Man with the Golden Mind.
Detective Maier is on his way to Laos to solve the 25 year old murder of an East German cultural attaché. But before he can set off, his client, the dead man’s daughter is kidnapped right under his nose in a swish Hamburg hotel. As soon as Maier reaches the Laotian capital Vientiane, he realizes that there‘s more to the case than an old murder.
His kidnapped client, the US government, the Laotian and Vietnamese secret services, remnants of the erstwhile US mercenaries and a feisty young Laotian woman are all on the trail of a file of cold war secrets and its creator, a man called Weltmeister, a former US assassin no one has heard of in a quarter century.
When Weltmeister drifts into the picture like a chimera, betrayed and vengeful, Maier is forced to examine old history, especially his own, in order to make sense of the present. All roads lead to Long Cheng, the former CIA airbase and a very personal encounter with America’s deadliest assassin.
All this might sound a tad too meditative for a spy thriller, but fear not, there’s plenty of sex, drugs, assassinations, executions, kidnapping, double-crosses and other darkness-tinged exotica along the way to keep readers in search of an action fix on Maier’s side. And in an all out explosive finale, the most infamous of former US foreign secretaries makes an appearance. Which makes me wonder, in passing, who will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year?Read More