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Blue Gold by David Barker - Book Tour

By 7:00 AM , , , , , , , , ,


The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat - a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow. When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda's misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster - a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires' tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust? As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon - and protect the future of 'blue gold'. David Barker's gripping debut will thrill fans of Richard North Patterson, Scott Mariani and Steve Berry.  

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Snow was ripping away his senses, one by one. The horizon had disappeared and all Sim Atkins could do was focus on the back of the person in front of him. His fingers and toes had gone numb. Thin air and thick snowflakes fought for priority in his nose and throat. Stumbling through knee-high snow drifts, urged on by the muffled cries of a guide, Sim was gasping for oxygen. Big gulps merely delivered a mouthful of snowflakes that melted on his tongue. A welcome sip of water trickled down his throat. Ahh, a drink of water. The source of all his troubles, the source of everybody’s troubles these days. He tried to control his breathing, deep inhalations through his nose, like a yoga exercise. But the situation was not helping his inner peace, not one jot.

Sim was clipped onto a rope, part of a chain of people trying to get down the mountain as quickly as possible. Gopal, the Ghurka who was leading the line, kept turning around to urge them onwards. The sound of distant explosions echoed off the sides of the mountains, sometimes accompanied by a flurry of movement as dislodged snow cascaded down.

The clouds were starting to part when there was a cry from the back of the human chain. The bald Rabten, who had provided Sim with warm clothes only a few minutes ago, pointed skywards with his pick-axe. “Chopper.”

Gopal looked around and spotted a small overhang of rock off to their left up a short, steep incline. “Head for the cover,” he shouted.

The helicopter flew closer and a pair of auto cannons opened fire. Bullets bit into the snow around Sim, hissing like hot iron on flesh. Sim’s partner, Freda, was lagging behind until Gopal threw her over his shoulder and carried her up the slope. All five of the team made it under the rocky out-crop by the time the helicopter had banked and started coming around for a second attack. The man who hadn’t spoken since Sim and Freda had been rescued unslung his sniper rifle and knelt down, using his left knee to steady his aim. He waited while the helicopter flew closer and then squeezed the trigger. The glass on the side of the cabin shattered and the aircraft began to spin out of control. It lost altitude and as it approached the ground swirls of snow gathered around the helicopter until its tail clipped one of the rocks. The aircraft folded in on itself as if it had been made of paper all along. A spark ignited the fuel tank and an orange fireball lit up the snowy scene.

Sim turned to the marksman to offer his congratulations when he heard a rumble like thunder just above the rocks they were cowering under. He stood up to see what was happening but Rabten grabbed hold of his clothes and hauled him down to the ground. Tonnes of snow swept around and over the outcrop for several seconds and then stopped just as quickly as it had started. For a moment the mountainside was quiet and still.

Gopal rose to his feet first. “Come on, there could be more Black Whirlwinds around. We need to make the treeline by dusk.”

Still clipped together, the group made its way further down the pass. They settled into a steady pace. The delays between distant explosions became longer and longer.

Don’t suppose there’s much left to destroy now, thought Sim.

They paused as the route down traversed a valley. Some of the snow drifts went up to Sim’s waist and the surface ahead was no longer smooth but jagged.

The leader turned to the others. “Probably a glacial tongue under this snow. There may be crevasses, so stick close together.”

Walking slowly forward, the group started to edge across the valley. Sim kept his eyes fixed on Freda in front of him, watching carefully where she trod, ready to grab the line in case she started to fall. After twenty minutes, his arms were getting tired from the continuous tension and he was beginning to think that Gopal had mis-diagnosed the lie of the land. His mind began to wander back to that prison cell. With a jolt on the rope, Freda flew out of sight. Not down into a yawning chasm but upwards. How was that possible? Then he realised why - he was the one falling, bumping down a face of rough ice. He thrashed his pick-axe in front of him, trying to grab a purchase on anything. At last it bit into the ice and his shoulder was nearly pulled from its socket as the arm took his full weight. Looking down he could see nothing but a dark gap that went further than he cared to imagine. Looking up he saw a thin slither of light and Freda wedged sideways a few metres above him, still clipped to the line, trying to right herself. He had to hold on so that Freda wasn’t dragged down with him.

A voice from the surface shouted. “Don’t try to move. Just hang on, we’ll get you out.”

Sim managed to grab the handle of the pick axe with his other hand and hung there staring at the rough, pale blue ice inches from his face. A reflection looked back at him in those moments of terror. A distorted visage: the result of imperfections in the ice; or all that happened to him these past few weeks? Clinging on for his life, in a glacial crevasse on the far side of the world, he was an international OFWAT agent on a mission to save the world. That sounded crazy. Two months ago, the nearest he would have come to a scenario like this would have been one of his favourite virtual reality games.

Was it really only April when I received that phone call?

Author Info



David lives in Berkshire and is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time. David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing.

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