What else would you expect on Guy Fawkes Day but an explosion?
Every year, the British military base in Germany commemorates the 5th of November with a huge bonfire that elicits oohs and aahs from service personnel and their families. This year, a battalion of Drumdorran Fusiliers arrives just in time to be piped in for the celebration, but the screeching of the bagpipes is drowned out by an unplanned explosion that sends debris flying, badly burns an officer’s young son and kills the Pipe Major’s wife. Although the garrison commander is away at a conference, Max Rydal and Tom Black of 26 Section, Special Investigative Branch, Military Police, are on hand to sort through the chaos. Were terrorists targeting the base? Why were the Pipe Major and his wife living apart? Did any of the soldiers responsible for setting the bonfire add extra charges to humiliate a tyrannical officer? A few nights later, there’s more chaos when someone sets fire to the hedges outside the mess. The base erupts, with battalions from the West Wiltshire Regiment battling the Royal Cumberland Rifles, the Royal Engineers feuding with the Royal Signals and everyone ganging up on the poor Scots. Meanwhile, Tom also must deal with his teen daughters’ embarrassment at his wife’s unplanned pregnancy, and Max must overcome his jealousy of his friend Clare’s handsome overnight guest. A reassessment of everyone’s alibi resolves matters, but not before more mayhem sets Max up for convalescent leave.
Less fun than an hour-long bagpipe recital, and no more serious competition to Lee Childs’ military police stories than Indian Summer (2011) or its ilk.