Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC has honed his writing and soldiering skills to produce a book of war-intelligence fiction.
Having had two books about his personal conflicts on the battle fields published over the last few years, the politician and Royal Irish Regiment Captain (Red) has written the fictional ‘Reaper’, described on the cover – ‘In the war on terror, friends can be as dangerous as enemies’.
Mr Beattie told the News Letter: “My first two books are based on my personal experiences, mainly in the Middle East. They are called ‘Ordinary Soldier’ and ‘Task Force Helmand’. They pulled no punches on the horrors of wars and are, frankly, violent books on how it feels on the fields of battle – in literally life and death situations. They are tributes to the people I served with – British and Afghans.”
In ‘Ordinary Soldier’, he especially espouses the memory of Afghan-Muslim policeman Sher Wali, “the most courageous man I ever met who saved my life on three different occasions and sadly died on the last day of the Battle of Garmsir in South Helmand”.
In ‘Task Force Helmand’, he especially mourns the killing of two of his great friends, Sergeant Jonathan Matthews, who was shot by the enemy, and Corporal Barry Dempsey, who stepped on a notorious IED bomb while on patrol.
Both were published by the prestigious London firm Simon and Schuster, and sold well internationally, with ‘Ordinary Soldier’ making The Times top 10 listings.
“Both were about my own experiences, and for number three I had a go at fiction,” said Mr Beattie. “When you’re having what’s called ‘down time’ in a war and can’t sleep at night, writing is really therapeutic. ‘Reaper’ marries fact with fiction.”
It’s about a rogue soldier, Adam Caine, who is booted out of the Army after a secret mission goes horribly wrong. But he is re-engaged to pursue Sandhurst-trained Pakistani soldier Bashir, who – instead of fighting terrorism back home – joins the terrorists to seek revenge for the death of his innocent family, killed in a US drone strike.
The two men are in a race – Bashir to bomb and kill as many of his new enemies as possible, and Caine to track him down and stop him.
Caine goes all-out on Bashir’s trail, but neither man realises he is being duped by CIA boss Cyrus Vincent, who never plays by the rules and is only interested in himself.
Mr Beattie, 50, has deep knowledge of the British Army, having served for 34 years and gained his Military Cross in Afghanistan. He has been an instructor at Sandhurst and has served not only in the Middle East but also in countries as diverse as Bosnia, Kosovo, Uganda, Northern Ireland and Sierra Leone.
He was still employed full-time by the Army until he decided to fight for a place in the NI Assembly on a UUP ticket. He remains an Army Reservist.
‘Reaper’ is published next week in paperback by FireStep of London, runs to 350 pages and retails at £11.99.