THE BRITANNIA CONTRACT by Paul Mann

THE BRITANNIA CONTRACT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Mann's bid at a Clancy-sized thriller has an elegantly simple premise. Half a dozen IRA terrorists, aided by a couple of Palestinian free-lancers, seize Her Majesty's yacht Britannia as it lies off a Saudi port and hold it and its royal passengers for a fabulous ransom: the withdrawal of all British troops from Northern Ireland within one week. The kidnapping of the British Establishment is nothing new, having already been presented by writers as different as John Gardner and Peter Dickinson. And Mann's hushed reverence for HRH, ``the world's most enduring symbol of grace,'' doesn't give his victims much life. But they don't need much life when they're surrounded by fanatical IRA stalwarts like Dominic Behan, his looting, raping underlings, and his even more sinister mercenary boss, Edward Doyle, a former British marine whose grudge against the Crown is personal rather than political. After the initial violence of its seizure, the Britannia becomes the motionless eye of a political firestorm, as the Prime Minister realizes that a British withdrawal will be followed by vigilante pro-British rioting (Mann is especially convincing at showing the consequences of terrorism in London, in Belfast, even in Boston) and that Doyle plans to sink the Britannia whether or not his demands are met. Obviously a rescue mission is in order; and, fortunately, private radio contact with the royal hostages and their bodyguards will allow the counterterrorist command to coordinate preparations for rescue with a flashy operation in which Special Boat Squadron veteran Colin Lynch (The Traitor's Contract, 1991) will play a decisive role. The sharply realized action sequences make Mann's incredible premise compelling from the starting gun, and his grasp of its geopolitical implications is unnervingly persuasive. Grand summer reading--an outsized, perfectly realized thriller that doesn't carry any of Clancy's extra weight. (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: July 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-88184-933-2
Page count: 448pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1993




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