A young, would-be Islamic martyr, fitted for an explosive vest, follows orders taking him from Saudi Arabia to the London exurbs, his target known only to the mastermind his American nemesis calls the Twentyman.
Seymour (Rat Run, 2007, etc.), a genuine master of the modern thriller, brings together old-line British spies, a brilliant war-maimed American spook, a couple of classic crooks, a bankrupt professor, the literary ghost of a doomed idealist in the Spanish Civil War, a cell of disaffected young British Muslims, a brave but alienated copper and a half-English-half-Arab villain with a hatred for the West. Ibrahim Hussein, a young medical student and his loving father’s last surviving son, has been selected from a group of volunteer suicide bombers by the Twentyman as the one best suited to travel to England to wreak havoc. The others are sent to Iraq for other deadly work, but Ibrahim has the unselfconscious stride that will allow him to pass through all controls and checks without comment until he reaches ground zero. As the naively devout Arab crosses Europe, passing from cell to cell, British protective officer David Banks starts another journey, reading his great uncle’s account of his disastrous enlistment in the International Brigades defending Republican Spain from the fascists. That trip to another time is enough to reshape Banks’s understanding of heroism and alienates him from his comrades, resulting in reassignment to duties that will bring him into Ibrahim’s path, as a couple of keen old intelligence hands use the dirtiest of methods to find the martyr’s target.
Heroics, religion, sex, torture, doubt and ever-increasing tension in a cerebral blend. A thriller for all sides of today’s war.