Title: The Terrorists’ Apprentice
Author: Walter Craig
Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing (May 24, 2013)
Length: 540 pgs
Sub-Genre: Psychological Thriller
Titanic meets 911.
Why would a mild mannered chemistry professor become a terrorist?
A cruise ship sails from Australia into the Indonesian Archipelago with 2500 passengers and 700 crew. Among them are terrorists who plan to sink the ship with everyone onboard. They’ve been recruited by al Qaeda to provoke a war between Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. They plan a massive explosion that will take more victims than 9/11.
A sharp detective investigating a missing person case in Western Australia uncovers the plot. On the ships security team is a former LAPD motorcycle officer who is thrust into the conflict, while an ensemble of passengers and crew are caught in the ensuing chaos.
As the terrorists’ plot unravels the chase begins; through the ship, on to shore and across the dangerous island of Komodo.
About the Author:
Walter Craig grew up in Los Angeles. He’s been a professional diver, photographer and travel writer. He’s written three novels: “Walking on Nails”, “The Lone Ranger Syndrome”, and ‘Deep Blues’; plus several screenplays. He now lives in Australia.
Mansur’s watch said eleven-twenty-one, he had four minutes to be back in his cabin. He raced out of the tender with the bag, closed the hatch behind him, then ran across the catwalk and dropped down the ladder. As he hit the deck he heard a heavy metal door slam shut and someone running towards him. He dropped back in the shadow of the davit and peeked around the edge.
A man in a white uniform with security epaulets was racing toward him. It was the Indian. He hated Indians. He heard the man stop.
Mansur’s first instinct was to fight, to surprise him and use the Indian’s forward motion to toss him over the side of the ship using a simple karate throw. But if he did it would be in plain sight of the camera on the opposite wall. Then he got a better idea. He unzipped the bag, pulled out the lifejacket and slipped it over his head, kicked the duffle bag through the rails where it caught the wind and disappeared down the side of the ship. Then he hunched his shoulders forward and put a frightened look on his face.
Singh ran past the davit and sensed someone. He stopped and turned.
A man stepped out of the shadows. A passenger wearing a lifejacket looking scared to death.
“What are you doing here?” Singh shouted, pumped and ready for anything.
Mansur shrugged sheepishly and pulled the lifejacket closer around his neck and said, “I heard the fire alarm and I thought I was supposed to get to a life boat.”
Singh looked closely at him. Was this guy a Paki, a Sri Lankan? He had a refined British accent. “The fire is out,” Singh said. “Your muster station is inside the ship. You were to await an order from the Captain to go there. Do you remember the life boat drill on your first day?”
The man shrugged again, like a pathetic dickhead standing there with his bloody lifejacket on.
“This deck is closed,” Singh said, “Go back to your cabin.”
Mansur protested weakly, milking it.
Singh softened, the guy seemed really scared. “Do you want me to escort you?”
“No,” said Mansur, “I can find my own way.” He walked to the door, swung it open and stepped inside the corridor.
Singh watched him go then ran back to the security room.
“What was it?” asked Carla, still scanning through the crew galley cameras. The smoke was clearing, the foam spray had been shut off, the alarms had stopped.
“Some panicked passenger, heard the alarm and was ready to abandon ship. It takes all kinds.” He looked up at the monitors, “Looks like it’s out.”
“What a mess, I pity the porters that have to clean it up.”
Singh scanned the top deck cameras, looking for more fire but saw none. He thought about the passenger on deck, and wondered how the man had been able to hear the alarm, it had been confined to the crew deck. And why hadn’t any of the other passengers heard it?
A few years ago my wife dragged me on a cruise. It was my first…and likely my last. Cruises aren’t my style. I’d rather run my own boat on my own adventure.
But there we were for 2 weeks, cruising from Fremantle, on Australia’s west coast, up into Indonesia, with shore stops on Semarang, Bali, Lombok and Komodo, before turning south and running back to Oz.
I got bored halfway through the first week and started planning a thriller novel set on the ship. What kind? Terrorists of course. And I spent the next 10 days exploring the ship, figuring how I would smuggle explosives aboard and plant them and sink the ship. Why and how and where all unfolded in my devious mind. Then we landed on Komodo Island, home of the famous ‘dragons’: huge monitor lizards, deadly, cannibalistic, cold-hearted killers. And I knew I had to set the climax here.
During the run back south I created a cast of characters: ships officers, security staff, crew, passengers, terrorists, cops, shipping line managers. I wove a story around what I’d seen aboard, and devised a surprise ending…so no peeking.
It’s all plausible. It could happen. I hope you enjoy reading this page-turner as much as I enjoyed writing it.
—- Walter Craig