Author(s): Toby Fraser
Nanotech entrepreneur Ryan Trishler and retired Soviet general Alexander Volkov come from very different worlds, yet both have survived the toughest of upbringings. And now each man understands something of the nature of military conflict: one using technology to avoid senseless deaths on the battlefield, the other profiting from wartime brutality wherever it happens. A searing indictment of the international arms trade and the political corruption that feeds it, The Beacon Project is both high-octane thriller and moving family drama, a story that shows the stark choices powerful men make, and the razor-thin line between good and evil. You know you’re getting deep into your research when it attracts official attention in New Zealand. For Christchurch author Toby Fraser, that moment came when he was researching the illegal arms trade for his novel, The Beacon Project. More than once his extensive online searching led to a follow-up from concerned security agencies checking on his intentions. Fraser was drawn to the subject matter not by fascination but by abhorrence. His studies, travels and life experience had made him aware of the horrors of war zones and refugee camps, and of the sheer misery the arms trade created. He also saw the bigger picture that lay behind the trade – large corporations that exploited their position as manufacturers of armaments in order to promote their products. It is this nexus of legitimate business and the criminal underworld that Fraser explores in his novel, and as he does so he exposes the ways in which military purchasing can corrupt not only itself but the political systems that fund it. Toby Fraser was born in Canterbury, where he studied and subsequently worked as an engineer, and he brings an engineer’s eye for detail to his descriptions of machines and materiel. Fraser was also a father, though, and the empathy and understanding that parenthood fosters also shines through in The Beacon Project, in its depiction of a family under severe stress as killers circle. Fraser’s passion for the environment and his experience skiing, fishing, cycling and otherwise exploring the great outdoors is also evident. The book’s settings in-clude the United States, Canada and New Zealand, and the story draws on visits the author made to the Ross-land and Kettle Valley areas of Canada, famous for their mountain-biking trails, and the remote Orwell Creek area of Westland, New Zealand. Tragically, The Beacon Project is published subsequent to Toby’s death.