Rules of Betrayal


Practically the most common question I am asked as a thriller writer is “how do you get your ideas?” It is tempting to say that I travel the world meeting in dark alleys with highly placed sources from MI5 or the CIA or the Japanese TOKA, and through a mix of charm, wit, and steely aggression, convince them to reveal closely-held secrets. Not so, I’m afraid. (Or at least, not as often as I’d like!) The initial idea for Rules of Betrayal came from a close friend, Dr. Jon Shafqat, a gifted oral and maxillary surgeon, during a game of golf, when he related a story one of his older clients had told him. The client had helped build atomic bombs in the 1950’s and 60’s and in the course of describing his career, mentioned several instances whereby fully armed atomic bombs had fallen mistakenly out of the aircraft carrying them. The stories were almost comical – the juxtaposition between the world’s deadliest and most advanced weapons and the Rube Goldberg-type contraptions used to drop them from planes.

After a search on the Internet, I discovered that the incidence of planes carrying nuclear weapons either crashing or suffering mid-air catastrophes resulting in armed weapons dropping to the earth (or sea) below were not uncommon in the years between 1946 and 1985, and that even as recently as a year ago, nuclear warheads were mistakenly transported by plane across the continental United States. (The Air Force is adamant in their claim that the warheads were not armed.) I think we’ve all learned enough about the government over the years that if they admit to ten accidents, there were probably twenty, and that we ought to think twice about claims that every bomb lost was recovered. Anyway, as a thriller writer, it’s my obligation to think that way. Bingo! I had the first idea about what I wanted Rules of Betrayal to be about – a lost nuclear weapon.

I’ll let you guess who finds it. Better yet, I’ll let you read!