THE LORDS' DAY by Michael Dobbs is a riveting novel that compels completion in one sitting. If I hadn't had to waste time by going to my pesky job plus performing tedious domestic chores, I would've done just that.
The plot takes place sometime in the near, imaginary future. Britain's House of Lords is hijacked by eight armed Afghanis during the ceremony marking the State Opening of Parliament. The hostages taken include Queen Elizabeth II, her Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the U.S. Ambassador, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a host of others including assorted bishops, judges and foreign dignitaries. The occupiers have only one non-negotiable demand.
A thread that runs through the entire book is one of sons. Among the hostages are the Queen's eldest, Prince Charles, and the sons of the Prime Minister and the American President. The American Ambassador mourns the recent loss of his only son to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. And the leader of the attackers, Masood, is himself the son of a notorious terrorist mastermind.
The hero of the piece is Harry Jones, a Member of Parliament. Jones is also a former member of the SAS, a fact that makes him lethal like so many other Tough Guys of contemporary British fiction from the same background. (How is it that those that save the day for the Western democracies within the pages of innumerable thrillers don't come from the Royal Corps of Signals or the motorpool of the Coldstream Guards?)
I particularly liked the author's attempt to delve inside the relationship existing between the only two real-life characters of the novel, the Queen and Prince Charles. Of course, one outside the family can only imagine, but as Dobbs depicts it, it must be, um, complicated.
The only false note was perhaps struck by the plot twist at the end, which struck me as an effect disproportionate to the cause and somewhat implausible. However, that minor quibble isn't enough for me to knock off a star from an otherwise totally absorbing potboiler.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Headline Review; 1 edition (1 November 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0755326873
- ISBN-13: 978-0755326877
- Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.3 x 2.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 558 g
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