ULTIMATUM by Simon Kernick


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A British thriller filled with bloodcurdling action and suspense.

Five kilos of plastic explosive laced with shrapnel rip apart a London coffee shop and the people in it, and a day of terror begins. Soon authorities receive an ultimatum that comes with a 12-hour deadline: announce by 8 p.m. the withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan and support from the American effort there, or London will suffer a far greater attack. The solution isn’t so simple, in part because the terrorists’ goals are not what they seem. Then a dangerous prisoner named Fox claims to know who is behind the mayhem, but he will only spill the beans—and only to DC Tina Boyd—for a steep price. Boyd is a risk-taking, rule-bending copper who has a knack for attracting trouble; clearly she means well, but she often seems just one step from being disciplined by her exasperated superiors. As the day progresses, events spin out of control. Blood flows and the body count rises, and it’s no surprise that Fox is more of a problem than a solution. Fox and friends aim to shake the very foundation of British society, but who are they kidding? The Brits once stood up to Hitler’s blitzkrieg, for crying out loud, so a few terrorists’ long-term odds can’t be all that great—or can they? Still, Boyd sees frighteningly close combat that “felt like stepping right into the heart of a nightmare,” where “the good guys are dropping like flies.” The book is tightly plotted and paced like a bullet, with scenes that feel all too plausible and terrifying. The ending suggests a sequel, and that’s good news for lovers of fictional excitement, because Kernick is one fine yarn-spinner.

A fast and satisfying read. Thank goodness it’s only fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-0625-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


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