Guy Lane's debut novel is a tale of two cities, not the Paris and London of the Charles Dickens' classic, but the contemporary landscapes of the familiar, Dubai, and the less familiar, Townsville, in Queensland, Australia.
Lane's book, a self-published affair, appears under the title The Oil Price: Saving the Planet is a Deadly Business, and emerged a couple of months ago to minimal fanfare. A single, but undoubtedly warm review, adorns the book's Amazon page, where it is described as "a roller coaster of a novel".
And it is, a roller coaster of a novel - or to appropriate the name of the most terrifying ride at one of Dubai's water parks, it's a Jumeirah Scarer of a book.
Lane's thriller begins in Townsville, the author's home town. Here we meet the wealthy Danny Lexion, a man possessed of a "strong jawline and a slightly gravelly complexion", who is also quite partial to cruising the city's nightspots in search of a good time. He is, Lane informs us, "a dilettante in life ... a lover of fine things, a carer of nothing". It is in one of these establishments that Lexion meets the young and beautiful Bren Hannan, a "greenie", a lover and a carer for the environment.
By one of those plot devices so customary to readers of this genre, Hannan and Lexion are soon bound for a UN conference in Dubai. It is here they encounter Brad Moore, the evil chief executive of Peking Petroleum.
Moore once headed up a security firm in Iraq, but now fancies a crack at the oil business. He believes there are vast untapped oil reserves sitting below the tiny Pacific island of Lala, but needs to raise $50 million to begin exploration and, indeed, exploitation of this virgin territory. He manages to secure the funds he needs through Suli, his Emirati sponsor.
"Suli was Brad Moore's ticket to setting up an oil company," writes Lane, "[and] Brad Moore wanted into the Emirates because the country was highly developed and located in the heart of the Middle East's oil territories. The Emirates had plenty of financial resources to fund his planned petroleum adventures. Plus, Brad Moore simply liked the idea of living in a city where you could go snow skiing at lunch time."
Only one man can stop Moore and that man is Danny Lexion, but not before Lane has sprinkled cold-blooded assassins, lily-livered environmentalists and a terrorist plot to blow up the Burj Al Arab across his pages. Even neighbouring Sharjah gets a brief taste of the action.
Lane first visited Dubai five years ago, in 2006, as a delegate at a conference - when he's not writing books he's a sustainability consultant ("I assist organisations to understand carbon," he tells me during our telephone interview) - and returned twice subsequently to conduct additional research. He was quite taken with the city of life.
"I was just so overwhelmingly enchanted by Dubai, its incredible vision and the real estate developments ..."
Quite taken, although there is a "but" lurking here.
"... but also by the fact that all this was being done in a city which had [one of] the highest ecological footprints on the planet.
"I saw Dubai as this very unsustainable place, but also I saw within it the opportunity for something extraordinary to happen."
It is a common reaction among those who visit the city, that recognition of the remarkable.
"In the city in the world which is building the most exceptional architecture ... it seemed to me that Dubai would eventually also be the place where the world's most sustainable skyscraper would be built.
"I wanted to talk about Dubai and about oil," he says, "and I wanted to create an environmental hero."
Lexion emerges as that man, but only after his largely empty existence is filled by Hannan.