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08 January 2012

Those in Peril

Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith is like two thrillers in one.

Hazel Bannock is the head of the Bannock Oil Corporation. She inherited the title from her husband when he died, but she is more than up to the task. She has been increasing the size and power of the company. Each year, she and her daughter take the yacht from South Africa to a small island in the Seychelles for Christmas.

This year, the yacht will be taken over by pirates. But Hazel is not on it. She is at one of the oil fields and planned to met her daughter on the island. Now Cayla Bannock, 19 years old, is being held captive by one of the most ruthless bands of Somali pirates. They plan to get a lot of money out of Hazel Bannock, but not necessarily return her daughter.

Head of security at the oil field, Hector Cross, has become the most important man in Hazel's life - because he has the skills and the men to rescue Cayla once they figure out where she is being held.

With any American author this would be two books - the first a kidnapping and rescue attempt, and the sequel and all-out war between Bannock oil and the pirates. Because Smith created the perfect tension builder in the middle of the book. He showed a family trying to get back to its normal life after a kidnapping. Everything is going along like the troubles are over. But readers can see that there are many pages left in the book and their brain begins to worry.

The second half of the book is a battle to destroy the pirate lair and insure that the pirates leave the Bannock family alone forever. The illogical blood feud that the pirate, Tippoo Tip, imagines will not end if any of his male relatives is alive to continue the campaign. These are not the sailing-ship pirates of yore, but radical Islamic terrorists who happen to have fast boats and do not stop to "right" a wrong against them.

Smith is a thriller author who will suck readers in and keep them engaged until the last page. Look for more of his books to be reviewed in the future.

Smith, Wilbur. (2011). Those in Peril. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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