Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith is an author who needs no introduction; he has been doing this for nearly fifty years and has over thirty books to his name. I was going to describe him as a ‘Marmite’ author – you either love him or hate him – but, under cross examination, most of those who claim to fall into the latter category turn out to have read a remarkable number of his books!

‘Those in peril’ is his latest offering, published in the UK on Friday 31st March. It is a stand-alone novel, not related to any of his previous series of novels, but it conforms to the usual tried and tested formula.

The main characters are:

Hector Cross – an ex SAS major, court-martialled for killing three insurgents in Baghdad but cleared. Now runs a security firm called Cross Bow Security Ltd (geddit?) providing protection to Bannock Oil in the Middle East and worldwide. Clearly hard as nails and a bit of a fitness fanatic – at one point he goes out and runs a marathon in boots in the desert in four and a half hours in order to relax.

Hazel Bannock – former Australian Open winner and wife of Henry Bannock (now deceased). Now owner of Bannock Oil. Also incredibly fit, just happens to be a crack shot and expert parachutist

Cayla Bannock – spoilt brat daughter of Hazel Bannock. Stupid enough to place herself into compromising situations repeatedly (very useful as a plot device) but means well.

As with most Wilbur Smith books, the plot is so well sign-posted that only Cayla Bannock would have failed to realise what was going to happen next (in this case, unfortunately for her, that meant being kidnapped by her French lover who turns out to be the grandson of a Somali warlord). When one of the characters refers to another character in the past tense (who is alive at that particular moment in time), it is not tricky to work out they are probably going to be the next one to cop it. Wilbur Smith’s novels have always been a bit racy but this one seems to excel in this regard – the main characters seem unable to contain themselves for more than a couple of pages at a time before jumping each other and the pirates have a tendency for rape whenever given the opportunity.

All that said, this book is excellent and a must-read for any Wilbur Smith fan. It is 380 pages long and I finished it in under 24 hours. Having an obvious plot just allows one to feel smug when it pans out exactly as you have predicted to yourself. As usual, the plot tears along at breakneck speed. I think one of the reasons for his success is the obvious research that Wilbur Smith puts in before writing his novels – one feels that if placed in a similar position as one of the characters, you would now know what to do. His clear fascination with weaponry will strike a chord with many of his fans from this site.

All in all, a great read. Rip roaring adventure in a very 21st century setting.

5 Anchors

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I've already pre-ordered it via Amazon to be downloaded to my Kindle in two days time. Have read all of his books and looking forward to this new one.
I confused the title with "For Those in Peril" by Russel Braddon, author of "The Naked Island" It's about a matelot who goes on the trot but lives happily ever after. Well researched. [Dont know what the fcuk has happened to the key board???]:slow:
Wilbur Smudge books have always been a good read, though he has had a drop in form lately, with the terrible recent book about the egytian magus( A book so bad I cannot remember what it was called).
As a regular reader, I actually enjoy the somewhat cliched characters, the way the main hero always has a crafty native sidekick, and the way that the heroine always avoids a fate worse than a fate worse than death.
My fave WS is the Sunbird, a real rip-roarer with an interesting take on early african civilisations, that might even be based on fact.
Havent really read any of his work beyond a few chapters of The Quest which was dreary as hell. Might give some of the earlier stuff a shufti and see if its better. Just finishing the Sword of Honour trilogy by Evelyn Waugh so need a good read to follow on.

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