Will Africa ever change? is the question posed on the very last page of Asgaard. It is a very deep question, and one that I have given much thought to for many years. Africa is a place of contradictions. It has been for hundreds of years, and continues to be that dark place that defies logic. The white man tried to tame it, but lost the battle. Rhodesia (as it was then called) was the perfect example.

Asgaard is fiction, yet much of the story seems real. Africa is a fractured land and the introduction of modern killing technology seems to have created an ever simmering pot of death stew! Despots come and go, genocide is a word that young children learn, being labeled ‘poor’ puts you in the upper echelons of some parts of Africa.

D. Alan Johnson has written a great introduction to Africa and the mind sets that are involved.

Asgaard takes on an exploration of greed. At the center lays a valuable mineral Tantalum. This mineral is a vital component in the manufacture of almost every electronic device. When the price triples then quadruples on the world market Bixby Wison the Chief of Corporate Information and Strategy for Ramuda Corporation (head information Ferret) is asked to investigate.

His findings are disturbing, the price of the raw material has tripled in the past year, but production world wide has more than increased fourfold. The largest production is from an area of the Congo. Research shows the increased production, but not sales? What is happening? Is tantalum being stockpiled to artificially raise the price? Or are there other forces at work?

Bixby compiles his findings and wearing the only suit he owns, presents his findings to not just his own boss, but a room full of folks that smell of Government agencies. You know the ones, they all have three letter acronyms! Bixby has a name for the problem, N’dalu, a despot dictator who controls the main area where the tantalum deposits can be found. But even Bixby is confused about the reason for the sudden spike in tantalum prices, N’dalu has mechanized the mining operation, the heavy machinery is removing the deposits at a much greater rate than than the labor intensive mining methods of just a couple of years ago. What is happening to the material? Is it being stock piled? Is there some unknown buyer? Is it being used for some other purpose than the manufacture of electronic components?

David Alan Johnson has done a really great job with Asgaard, he baits the reader with Bixby,  after the first couple of pages he had me hooked. That is a key with any book, you have to capture the readers attention quickly.

The action changes to the Congo. Although it is under the guise of being a fact finding mission for the Ramuda Corporation, the large company that Bixby works for, in reality it is being backed by one of those government departments that has a three letter acronym for its name.

I don’t think I really want to spill the beans on any more of the plot. Asgaard runs at the speed of light. To say that you do not know what is going to happen when you turn the page, does not do it justice. This book is a freight train of action and reaction.

What I do admire in D. Alan Johnson’s writing is his ability to paint his characters with such brevity of words, but depth of texture. Camiilo “Q” Quartalino the Navy Seal turned mercenary with a little bit of a drinking problem, Randolph “Dolf” Zimmerhanzel the mild mannered missionary who must face some tough decisions, and Bret Descoteaux are but a few of the characters that D. Alan Johnson uses his wordsmithing descriptions on. So vivid are these characters that I would recognize them on the street!

Asgaard is pure fiction, but, I will quote from the back cover:

As a contractor he has worked for the Department of State, the Department of Defense, major oil companies, and other US government agencies. During that time he has made cargo airdrops, delivered troops, instructed foreign pilots, and flew surveillance aircraft in conflicts in Central America, Africa, and South America.

He currently splits his time between flying a surveillance aircraft in South America and enjoying his time off with is wife and two cats in Austin, Texas

I suspect that D. Alan Johnson is quite an interesting guy. In a quick email exchange with him yesterday, I no longer use the word ‘suspect’!

Take a walk on the wild side and try Asgaard, to order your copy, just click on the Amazon link above.

He is currently state side, and it is my plan to interview him next week. I think that is going to be an interesting adventure.

Simon Barrett

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