Murder, politics, seapower, Middle East instability, and intrigue in the White House are all part of this action thriller. Set against a background of modern piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the story begins as the new Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, is assigned to negotiate access to the oil fields off the island of Socotra and enlist help countering pirates who are capturing ships at will off the Horn of Africa. Meeting with resistance to her diplomatic overtures, Sumner recruits Connor Stark, a former naval officer turned mercenary who knows the region, as her defense attache.
When Stark sets up a meeting with the owner of a Yemeni shipping company and the ruling family, the challenges begin. Against this backdrop, diplomatic security agent Damien Golzari is investigating the death of a State Department official's son when he stumbles on an illicit khat trade involving Somali refugees in the United States. His probe leads him to Yemen and the shipping company owned by Stark's contact. As a result of this chance discovery, the two men are forced to become unwitting allies when they discover that their mysterious roads lead to one source.
To earn the favor of the Yemeni government, Sumner sets up a humanitarian-assistance mission to Socotra. But the Navy warship assigned to assist her is attacked by pirates. Stark assumes command and mounts a daring counterattack. Sumner negotiates a treaty to develop the oil fields and provide mutual security from the pirates, who, unknown to her, are working with other powers. In a final confrontation, Stark and Golzari must decide whether to challenge a navy and the most powerful man in the world.
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