I've been unable to find a copy of the actual image on the CD set, which features Big Ben, so have had to settle with the cover of the book published in 2007.
This is one of those titles that is just a little bit misleading. The occasion is the opening of Parliament in London, which actually takes place in the House of Lords, and has done since the death of Charles I. It is a great ceremonial occasion, with of course the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Cabinet, and most of the peerage in attendance. Among the special guests are the son of the Prime Minister, and his great friend, the son of the American President. Terrifyingly the House of Lords is taken over by 8 terrorists intent on the release of a brigand from Indian sub continent's North West frontier.
David Thorpe does a wonderful job in the voice characterisation but Michael Dobbs has given him such wonderful text to work with. He takes us inside the minds of so many people first of all on the eve of this great state occasion, but then as the siege unfolds. It becomes a story of parents and their sons, of terrorists pushed to the brink, of world rulers who just don't understand the ramifications of acts of war. This is one of those unthinkable situations that could so easily happen. Get a little careless, accept things at face value, become just a little complacent, and the very icons of civilisation come under threat.
As those who watch what is going on inside the House through a myriad of television cameras, and try to plan a rescue operation, those inside show their true colours. The only member of the Cabinet who was absent from the house, the Home Secretary, takes charge, but her authority is challenged by the American President, concerned for the safety of her son. COBRA, the emergency administration, is paralysed by indecision and the desire to extricate the Queen without critical injury.
I liked the insights into the thoughts of the Queen and the Prince of Wales, both before and during the seige. COBRA attempts to resolve the situation without giving into the demands of the terrorists, but each individual also wants to make sure that none of the blame for failure can be laid at their door afterwards.
Highly recommended. My rating 4.8
Michael Dobbs has published 16 books in the last 20 years. He is the author of the Francis Urqhart series and a number of other novels.
1. Goodfellowe MP (1997)
2. The Buddha of Brewer Street (1997)
3. Whispers of Betrayal (2000)
1. Winston's War (2002)
2. Never Surrender (2003)
3. Churchill's Hour (2004)
4. Churchill's Triumph (2005)
Last Man to Die (1991)
The Touch of Innocents (1994)
First Lady (2006)
The Lord's Day (2007)
The Edge of Madness (2008)
This is the second book I've listened to recently about terrorist threats. The other was BENEATH THE BLEEDING, by Val McDermid. Not surprising that this is a theme uppermost in British thinking: these books obviously strike a cultural chord.