Those in Perilby Wilbur Smith
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERHazel Bannock is heir to the Bannock Oil Corporation, one of the major global oil producers. While cruising the Indian Ocean, her yacht is hijacked by Somalian pirates and her nineteen-year-old daughter, Cayla, kidnapped. The pirates demand a crippling twenty-billion-dollar ransom for her release, and complicated political/b>/i>… See more details below
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERHazel Bannock is heir to the Bannock Oil Corporation, one of the major global oil producers. While cruising the Indian Ocean, her yacht is hijacked by Somalian pirates and her nineteen-year-old daughter, Cayla, kidnapped. The pirates demand a crippling twenty-billion-dollar ransom for her release, and complicated political and diplomatic sensitivities render the major powers incapable of intervening. With growing evidence of the horrific torture to which Cayla is being subjected, Hazel calls on Hector Cross to help her rescue her daughter. Hector is the man behind Cross Bow Security, the company contracted to Bannock Oil Corporation to provide all their protection. He is a formidable fighting man. Between them, Hazel and Hector are determined to take the law into their own hands. For nearly fifty years, internationally bestselling author Wilbur Smith has thrilled readers with novels set during the Egyptian era all the way up through the present day. Now, Those in Peril brings his matchless storytelling to bear on the violent, ruthless world of twenty-first-century piracy.
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.
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Read an Excerpt
Cayla was not certain what had awakened her. She thought she must have heard something. She sat up sleepily on the rumpled bed and listened with her head on one side. The sound was not repeated but something else had changed. Sleep slowed her mind so it took another few seconds for her to realize that the ship’s engines had stopped, and she was rolling ponderously to the surge of the sea.
‘That’s strange.’ She was unconcerned. ‘We cannot possibly have reached port yet.’ Then she realized that her bladder was uncomfortably full. She threw her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. She braced herself to the unusual motion of the yacht and then staggered to the bathroom. She perched on the toilet and sighed with relief as she emptied her bladder. She stood up and started back towards the bed. Moonlight was pouring in through the porthole that looked out over the owner’s private deck and swimming pool.
She was awake now and she paused at the porthole to look out at the starry sky and the dark sea. There was no wake pouring back behind the stern and she realized that her first impression was correct. The Dolphin had stopped. She thought that she would telephone the bridge and find out from the officer of the watch what was happening, but at that moment a shadow passed the porthole, and she realized that there was somebody out there on the private deck.
Immediately she was angry. That area was strictly out of bounds to the crew. She and her mother used it for nude sunbathing and swimming. Now she would certainly call the bridge and have the trespasser castigated. But before she turned away another figure came into her line of sight. He was dressed in dark clothing and had a black Arab shawl wound around his head to cover his face, leaving only his eyes showing. They glinted as he turned towards her. He paused in front of the porthole and peered in. She shrank back in alarm. The man put his face against the glass and raised one hand to shade his eyes, and she realized that the moonlight was insufficient to enable him to see into the darkened cabin. His demeanour was furtive but at the same time menacing. She held her breath and stood frozen with terror. He seemed to be staring into her eyes, but after a few seconds he stepped back from the porthole. With another pang of fear she saw that he had an automatic rifle slung over his shoulder. He vanished from her view but immediately three more dark figures filed swiftly and silently past the porthole. All of them carried automatic weapons.
Now she realized that it must have been the sound of rifle fire that had woken her. She had to get help. She was terrified and shaking. She ran back into her cabin and snatched the satellite telephone from the bedside table. Frantically she dialled the bridge. There was no reply but she let it ring while she tried to think what to do next. There was only one other person she could appeal to. She dialled her mother’s private line. Hazel’s recorded voice instructed her to leave a message. She rang off and immediately dialled again with the same result.
‘Oh, Mummy! Mummy! Please help me.’ She whimpered and began to compose a text message on her mobile phone, her thumbs flying over the keys as she typed.
Terrible things happening. Strange men with guns . . .
She stopped in mid-sentence. There was somebody at the door of her cabin. Somebody was opening the lock with a pass key. She punched the send button on her mobile phone and threw the device into the drawer of her beside table and slammed it shut. In almost the same movement she sprang from the bed. She rushed to the door and threw her weight against it as it began to open.
From Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith. Copyright © 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.
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