Hidden Beyond Detection” – in brief

Akila Sinclair is a junior intelligence analyst who dreads becoming an intelligence officer. Assigned to a research unit in the UK’s Special Intelligence Service, she is given the case of a suspicious middle-eastern cartel. But her only leads are a French refugee trader and a maverick woman who calls herself Storm. Storm has spent years using psychological tricks to confound the intelligence services.

Akila’s investigation leads her to an international terrorist plot in Rome. It’s imminent and only she can stop it. But she has no field experience, she’s being supervised 24×7 by Big Brother cameras, and her morality has become an obstacle.

Opening page

On the side table by the professor there was a pistol and a water glass. He wore a suit as black as night, and his face was covered with an Arabic head cloth and dark glasses. The only light filtered through a high-up window that peeked out to the courtyard. There was a death rattle from the diesel generator and the air smelt of cordite and sweat from the professor’s bodyguards.

René DuPoitier glanced at the plastic chair facing al-Ustadh. ‘Professor, it is a great honour to be in your presence.’ He said it in Arabic, with customary politeness. He would have added compliments but René’s contacts knew only that al-Ustadh was the new Head of Operations.

Politeness was forsaken. ‘Sit.’ Al-Ustadh’s voice rasped. ‘I was told you are training a British woman as a secret agent.’ There was no indication of how al-Ustadh had unearthed the truth.

René sunk onto the chair, feeling it threaten to collapse under his weight. So al-Ustadh was interested in Storm, not him, he realised. She would be pleased, but he was envious of her.

‘Do the British intelligence services suspect her?’

 René hesitated. ‘They know of her, and they have lost interest in her. She is believed to be a Christian, does nothing extreme and has used her mental disorders to mislead them.’

‘I may request her services soon. This will be for a single use, so I will pay double.’

René weighed the words ‘single use’. The outcome would not be good for Storm. He had thought of her as a friend. So be it. In this world, friends come, friends vanish.

‘When the time comes,’ al-Ustadh concluded, ‘speed will be essential.’

Excerpts

The seasoned surveillance lead stretched his feet out and pointed provocatively at Akila. ‘Tell us, what do we do? Whatever you chose, your precious “duty of care” is going to be compromised.’

Rome street - part of the setting for the novel "Hidden Beyond Detection"
Half of “Hidden Beyond Detection” is set in Rome

The Foreign Secretary laughed at the claim the entire operation was being run by a junior analyst on a training exercise.

Akila’s department head glared back. ‘I never joke about my work,’ he said. ‘My staff’s capabilities should not be underestimated.’

Hidden Beyond Detection – status

The author is seeking representation (a literary agent).

An earlier version of “Hidden Beyond Detection” came fourth in the 2019 First Novel Prize.

Adrian is currently working on a sequel and a completely different espionage novel.

[Page updated, 13 November 2021]