Staal debuts with an autobiographical novel, the author Staal following a fictional Eva Maria Staal, a young woman “lured away” from her job with a company manufacturing night-vision goggles by Jimmy Liu, a Canadian-Chinese arms dealer.
Operating from Holland, Staal becomes Jimmy’s assistant. Soon, she’s indispensable, accompanying him to Pakistan, China and Chechnya, each a snake pit of deception, corruption and malignant violence, where deals are brokered and broken among Jimmy, rebels and terrorists, criminal mobs and governments. Money rolls in until Jimmy meets Victor, a boy toy who demands luxury sports cars and London apartments. Circumstances grow more complicated when Staal and Jimmy are ambushed in Pakistan while negotiating a deal. Seriously wounded, Jimmy disappears for a time, and when rescued by Staal, he’s far less ambitious and driven. The novel weaves a second narrative into the gunrunning adventures, that of Staal’s romance with Martin, an architect, a character less explored than Jimmy. Initially, Martin leaves Staal when he learns the nature of her new work, but the romance is later rekindled. The denouement reeks with bitter irony.
A morality tale of the first order: lean and intense; dead honest and unforgiving.