THOSE IN PERIL by Wilbur Smith


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Smith tackles modern-day pirates in this adventure novel set in Africa.

Hector Cross has a problem. As the head of Cross Bow Security, he is tasked with protecting the assets of Bannock Oil in Abu Zara. When Somalian pirates kidnap heiress Cayla Bannock, her mother, Hazel, insists on accompanying Hector on the rescue mission. Complicating matters is Adam Tippoo Tip, sheikh of Puntland, a ragtag fiefdom of pirates, who has sworn vengeance against Hector for killing both his father and grandfather. Although Hector and Hazel start off loathing one another, their animosity inevitably gives way to passion. There’s quite a bit of sex in the book, and it’s typically gratuitous or grisly, including a horrifying gang-rape scene. Smith’s action sequences are first-rate, but he’s not a reflective writer and the story is marked by flat prose and wooden dialogue. (Cayla, for instance, doesn’t come remotely close to sounding like a young American girl from Houston.) Vengeance plays a major role here; it's the chief motivating force for both sides. Curiously, those who have been wronged by the pirate king’s schemes embrace their tormenter’s notion of what constitutes just punishment: a life for a life. The characters mete out revenge with ruthless savagery, engage in torture and carry out executions, making them no better than the enemy. Hector and Hazel ultimately win the day, but at a price so steep only a cynic would call it a victory.

An uneven, ripped-from-the-headlines swashbuckler whose heroes dodge their enemies’ bullets and the implications of their own actions, with mixed results.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-56725-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2011


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