Kernick, Simon - 'Siege'
Armed, masked, Middle Eastern terrorists have taken over an historic Park Lane, West London hotel named The Stanhope and are demanding that certain stringent conditions be fulfilled by the British government within five hours or they will start shooting their hostages. They are all heavily armed and have arranged bombs around the building to prevent military intervention and are quite prepared to lose their own lives to accomplish their mission. In a different location, the terrorists have kidnapped the children of the Assistant Deputy Police Commissioner from Scotland Yard who will be taking over the running of the police response team to their threats and are expecting her to advise them, surreptitiously, when the SAS are likely to attempt to seize the hotel, else they will murder her children.
When the terrorists struck the hotel they moved the majority of the guests into two locations but this is a very large building with many rooms and they missed quite a few who were in parts that could not be accessed so easily. These guests heard the commotion and also saw on their TVs what was happening and attempted to leave surreptitiously but unfortunately they get trapped at the bottom of a staircase when they see all the doors are locked and hand grenades are arranged to explode if the any attempt to open them is made. We learn that one is a women with diabetes who will start to go into a coma if she does not get insulin at particular times and her supply is isolated in her room. The manageress of the hotel was hoping to leave with her Australian fiancee but is worried that she may lose her life here. A particular guest with inoperable cancer came to the hotel to attempt suicide as he did not wish to be a burden for his relatives and was just about to put his head into a noose when a terrorist demanded he vacate his room.
All these side stories make the impact of this novel that much more hard hitting and lifts it above the usual crisis/catastrophe novel. Even though the book was quite lengthy I found once started it was very difficult to put down. The key to the impact of this fast paced, compelling story is the top quality of the research the author has made in his preparation to write this, his eleventh book. Even though the author is not from a journalistic background I found his writing to be very similar in quality to that of the best of Stephen Leather or Tom Cain. Recommended.
Terry Halligan, England