Publisher: Promontory Press (2015)
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In this timely and relevant suspense novel, Canadian Intelligence analyst, Jason Currie, is chosen by his government to liaise with the Untied States SECOR agency, a greatly expanded and highly efficient version of Homeland Security. Jason’s mission is to demonstrate to the Americans that Canada is a committed ally in the war and the fight against terrorism.

But before Jason can report to the SECOR L.A. office to begin his assignment, he experiences firsthand the arbitrary nature of how America now detains ordinary citizens for even the slightest suspicion. While attempting to enter the country, he’s stopped and escorted to a holding cell, supposedly because his name is on a list. The name on the list is Kouri, his original Lebanese family name before immigrating to Canada, changed by his father years ago to Currie.

As Jason is transported to a camp in the desert and inducted into the expanded wartime detention system, he is well aware that he could easily disappear without ever having the chance to clear up the misunderstanding over his identity. Only rescue by the American General to whom he was supposed to report in Los Angeles could save him from that fate.

This novel depicts an increasingly extremist United States, battered by the effects of global warming and war. The country has become paranoid and fearful, severely restricting the rights of its citizens and detaining them in large numbers without due process.

In Jason’s case, even though he’s a Christian, he’s been detained because of his recent trip to the Middle East to visit relatives. In the case of another prisoner Jason meets, even though the man has lived in America for 40 years, he’s detained for being an unemployed Muslim stonemason who has come to California to learn about the fate of his son, an imam, jailed for speaking out against American policies. And Jason’s longtime close friends, he finds out later in the story, have reacted by growing more hard-line, or by speaking out and as a result, being forced to flee the country.

Arthur Lawrence masterfully crystallized a “what if” scenario of the potential ramifications that hard-line government security policies can have on ordinary citizens if a culture of fear is allowed to take hold. This intriguing and, frighteningly so, realistic novel portrays a future that none of us would wish to experience, in which our government could become, indeed, a “fearful master.”