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Best of the west

Cap’n Jamie in a new blockbuster

By Squinter

The Clogherhead Convention
By Tim Clancy

On an early spring day in the Irish Sea, two small Ulster fishing boats are laying down their nets when suddenly they find themselves in the shadow of the Irish Navy’s most feared warship. The little trawlers are impounded, their crews taken hostage. But why?
Captain Jamie Bryson was once the Royal Navy’s most decorated and respected nuclear sub commander. But now he’s living in semi-retirement in the sleepy backwater of Donaghadee, tending his garden by day, chairing the parish council by night. When the call comes from Whitehall for him to take to the conning tower for one last top-secret mission, Captain Jamie has to make a choice between his chrysanths and his country…

“Action, romance, danger, flute music. This one has it all.” The Ballymena Guardian.
“An explosive tale of international intrigue that gallops breathlessly from Glengormley to Dundalk and straight to the gates of hell.” Shankill Buy and Sell.
“A really cracking holiday read and, believe me, I know what I’m talking about.” Ian Paisley Jnr.
“But Sinn Féin.” Slugger O’Toole.

Chapter one


‘Up periscope!’
Captain Jamie Bryson’s voice was tight with tension as he barked the order. He bent and took the handles, his knuckles whitening with the force of his grip. He welcomed the cold anger, it made him feel alive; he channelled it, bent it to his will. Anger and training: the fighting man’s best friends – how well he remembered that from his first day at Submarine School Newtownards.
The Astute class hunter-killer nuclear submarine sat sleek and silent 15 metres below the cold, dark Irish Sea. Captain Jamie’s eyes narrowed as he slowly scanned the still waters of Clogherhead harbour, past the pastel colours of the little trawler fleet until at last his crosshairs came to rest on the dull grey hull of the LÉ Orla. The battlecruiser lay squat and sinister in a corner of the harbour commanding a direct view of the two kidnapped Ulster fishing boats, the Amity and the Boy Joseph, two of its four 12.7mm heavy machine-guns trained on the wheelhouses where captain and crew lay on the floor trussed up like pigs.
Captain Jamie pushed the periscope handles into the closed position and took a step backward. “Battle stations,” he rasped, “make ready forward torpedo hatches”
Executive Officer Willie Frazer’s face creased into a mask of doubt and uncertainty. “But Captain, we’re under strict orders to maintain a watching brief.” He’d served under Captain Jamie for close on 20 years and never questioned an order – no need to, for Captain Jamie was a Man of the Sea: confident, experienced, exuding an air of calm authority that brooked no dissent.
“Mr Frazer, you have your orders.” Captain Jamie’s words were low, but there was no mistaking his deadly seriousness.
“Yes, Captain.”

A light wind ruffled the short sleeves of Captain Jamie’s immaculately-pressed white shirt and a weak winter sun glinted off the shiny black peak of his cap as he took his place on the conning tower. He fixed his binoculars on the brooding hulk of the LÉ Orla and stood fixed and resolute as a statue. At his shoulder, XO Frazer gripped the cold metal around him to stop his hands from shaking. Though he didn’t take his eyes from the glass, Captain Jamie sensed his number two’s unease.
“Mr Frazer,” he said, his gaze still on the enemy ship. “If those trawlers aren’t released by noon, we open fire. Ulster demands it.”

• The Clogherhead Convention. Published at £19.99 by No Surrender Press.

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