BLOOD ROYAL by Arden Winch


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Terrorist kidnapping of a royal British princeling--in a crisp rendition which, though short on surprises, alternates sturdily and plausibly between the police-procedure and the terrorists-in-hiding. The victim is eleven-year-old Prince Rupert, son of a Duke, who's grabbed from his private school. The kidnappers are a motley crew: German mastermind Irene; mercenary Drew; IRA naif Danny (his ""heroes all had four things in common--they were Irish, they were the subject of songs, they were hopelessly inept, and they were dead""); well-born dilettante Vivian. And the cop is Supt. Meadows, who must deal with the government's hush-hush attitude toward the case and with the tough-guy approach of the SIS (which tries to run things). The basic format is the usual: the terrorists make their demands (money, freed IRA prisoners, public government apologies)--with a deadline--while the cops desperately try to locate the hideout. And a variety of uniformed and undercover police go to it: they identify Irene, who was seen around the school--which leads them to identify Danny; they spot Vivian when he delivers a second message to the Times offices; they locate the stolen kidnap-vehicle, etc. And all this credible (if a bit too lucky) legwork brings them to the hideout. . . just hours before the kill-the-prince deadline. How to smoke them out? By rigging up a fake TV announcement, broadcast only to the hideout's television set--which gives in to the demands and offers the terrorists a getaway plane if they'll go to the airport. None of this is especially original, of course; likewise, the predictable feuding among the terrorists. But Winch, a veteran British-TV writer, writes it all with professional zest and provides enough offbeat details--earthy police procedures, comical and unsentimentalized bystanders--to turn this clichÉd scenario into mostly fresh, modestly suspenseful reading.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking