Kernick, Simon - 'Ultimatum'
This latest novel from Simon Kernick starts a year following the events in the previous book SIEGE, which described an attack and takeover of a leading Park Lane, West London hotel, by Middle Eastern terrorists. In this book, in the same manner as in the previous book, bombs explode, people are killed and warnings are sent to the BBC and other leading authorities warning that if the Government don't accede to the bombers demands by a certain deadline, countless unnamed people will die. Detectives Tina Boyd and Mike Bolt, are back in this story doing everything possible to stop the threat in complete contradiction of instructions from the more senior police as they did previously in the SIEGE story. Simon Kernick's stories have a breakneck pace with very short chapters and very quick changes of scene. All the action in ULTIMATUM takes place over the course of one day. He plays to the public's general contempt for criminals of foreign extraction getting off from heavy sentences for their crimes on law technicalities and avoiding deportation because of their "human rights" being exploited. The criminals are always able to do unspeakable evil acts to justify their cause and as in some of the early James Bond films there is a super brain manipulating everything to achieve his ambition of world domination, or at least acceptance of his arguments. Boyd and Bolt act independently and without official sanction to break into houses and do everything within their experience to countermand the terrorist threat and achieve the objective.
This book was very up to the minute, with the potential threat to a very important and prominent new London landmark by a missile which was very scary and had me gripped with tension until the last page. Whilst the author explains everything in detail for new readers, I believe it was very helpful to have read the earlier book SIEGE as many of the characters, both detectives and terrorists, are introduced in that title. The author can certainly hold the reader's attention as I read this very quickly over two days, but whilst his style is similar to Stephen Leather or Sean Black, I don't think his writing here in this book is as original as that of his two rivals. It was exciting but a bit predictable. That said, I found the story gripping and fast moving and the pages just shot by. A pleasant enough read and very entertaining.
Terry Halligan, England