Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Set a Novel in a Country Like Papua New Guinea?

     Aside from a few old geezers who fought the Japanese in Papua New Guinea sixty five years ago, and the occasional missionary or tourist who has been there, who cares what happens in a mountainous jungle island, far beyond the exotic lagoons and hula dancers of Hawaii? Why complicate a plot with strange people, odd customs, and geography?
      One reason is, there's a market for such books . Some people like to read about the Navaho Tribal Police, or the Ladies' Number 1 Detective Agency of Botswana, or Chief Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police, all of which have become popular series.
      A second reason is, an unfamiliar country gives many opportunities for unexpected twists in the plot. In Papua New Guinea, the setting of my latest crime story, the majority of the population are very poor, without much schooling. They are vulnerable to exploitation by timber merchants or mining companies who destroy the forests on which the people's lives depend. They are willing to listen to anyone with a get-rich-quick scheme, only to find out that someone else gets rich at their own expense.
      In such a country, an honest cop or government official can stand out, especially if the writer can make his character believable as well as unexpected. As the story develops, and the real problems of the country evolve, whole new opportunities for extending the story to a series arise. When I started this story ten years ago, PNG had little to offer the world except scenery and some gold and copper to mine. But now in the past year, PNG suddenly turns out to possess some of the largest fields of natural gas in the world. International gas and oil companies are investing 15 billion dollars over the next several years to produce 6.6 million tons of liquified natural gas per year to export to Asian markets. How will corrupt and inexperienced government officials handle this windfall?
There's the foundation for yet another story about police officer - now Inspector - Jason Kerro.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Samana Incident

Lieutenant Jason Kerro, Royal Papua New Guinea Police, thought the early morning report of an armed attack on the foreign translators' base at Samana was an ordinary robbery attempt by the "rascal gangs" that roamed the country's Highlands. No one in town had recognized these intruders, or knew where they had come from or had gone. Except that one spoke English with a foreign accent, and had cut the power to the radio station and town switchboard before being driven off by security guards.

Jason suspects a connection with the assault rifles and drugs that have been turning up for sale in nearby Mount Hagen. The word on the streets is that some of the police are taking payoffs from smugglers moving in from Asia, but no one is talking about it; those who did are no longer alive. Jason doesn't know which of his police colleagues he can trust. 
The sponsors of the translators' base, concerned with the safety of the families there, send in a pair of investigators with past experience with Asian drug dealers. George and Vienna Daniels are, to all appearances, short term medical volunteers at Samana's clinic. Jason soon discovers their usefulness as under cover allies in areas beyond his own jurisdiction. The intruders have hidden their trail well, but George and Vienna supply Jason with the edge that opens the case.

Look for it at your local bookstore,or ask them to order it: "The Samana Incident" by Keith Dahlberg. iUmiverse Press, ISBN 978-1-4502-6311-5. Also available on, or from the iUniverse on-line bookstore, In soft cover ($14.95) or e-book format ($9.99)