By Gerry Sammon
As a debut novel, I am amazingly proud of The Royle Deception, my action thriller newly published by Endeavour.
It’s a work of fiction, based on various historical facts and events, although the conclusions are entirely mine. Reading it, I don’t know anyone who would imagine it had taken around twenty years to finish. I had a crazily busy career, so every time I picked up the story again, I had to stop and concentrate on the work in hand. This stop-start method lasted two decades, and is not to be recommended.
The story begins with British officer Tom Royle at the end of WW2 and in the middle of a firefight in Vietnam. In fact it is now a mere footnote in history that the British had troops occupying what later became South Vietnam. The story tracks backwards and forwards in time, with Royle’s war taking him to Malaya and China, and later back to Vietnam, both north and south.
In real time Royle is working as an academic at a British university in 1974 when his undercover work in the Far East is suddenly reactivated and he is called on for one last assignment, to bring in a terrorist leader who had once been an important contact and double agent. The assignment takes Royle back to Vietnam, just as the communist government in the north begin their final assault on the south and Saigon itself.
Inspiration for the story came from a mix of sources. As a student I wrote a thesis on the so-called first contact between US government officials and the International Press, and the communist Chinese led by Mao Tse-tung, at the time blockaded by the nationalist Chinese government in a vast but remote part of China. This formed two of the chapters in the story, introducing Royle as part of the mission.
In addition, as a student I was acquainted with a lecturer who was reputed to have been a former spy in the Far East during the war. There was of course no concrete evidence for this, but it was an intriguing tale which I duly incorporated into the story, with Royle as this character. Adding to the belief of this academic’s fictional background, he could only be described as Smiley-esque, round, bespectacled, softly spoken, and with a very great knowledge of South East Asia.
During the Malaya chapters, and the so-called Emergency and conflict with communist-inspired guerillas, again all matters of fact, Royle’s character is based on the activities of a former colonial officer who had helped to organise peace talks with the real guerrilla leader, and the man Royle is sent to contact, Li Peng-fei.
A trip to China, and later to Vietnam to complete my research into the story proved to be the inspirational that prompted me to finish the story. Now, thanks to Endeavour Press, The Royle Deception is available for all to read.
All that remains now is to get cracking on the sequel…
Get your copy of Gerry Sammon’s The Royle Deception here!