'Masterful . . . superior entertainment that makes most other novels of suspense appear dull and slow-witted by comparison' Publishers Weekly
What should have been a simple pick-up turns into a day-long nightmare for Bad Sam Chapman.
When an operational catastrophe puts a gun in the hands of a young man, who then breaks into South Oxford Nursery School and takes a group of hostages, teacher Louise Kennedy fears the worst. But Jaime Segura isn't there on a homicidal mission, and he's just as scared as those whose lives he holds as collateral.
As an armed police presence builds outside the school's gates, Bad Sam Chapman - head of the intelligence service's internal security force, the Dogs - battles the clock to find out what Jaime is after. But the only person Jaime will talk to is Ben Whistler, an MI6 accountant who worked with Jaime's lover, Miro.
Miro's gone missing, along with a quarter of a billion pounds allotted for reconstruction work in Iraq. Jaime refuses to believe that Miro is a thief - though he's always had his secrets. But then, so does Louise, so do the other hostages - and so do some people on the outside, who'd much rather Jaime was silenced.
Near the start of this masterful thriller from Herron (Why We Die), Jaime Segura, a young immigrant to Britain with a gun, takes several hostages one morning at the South Oxford Nursery School, including a teacher, the school's cleaner, parent Eliot Pedlar and Pedlar's three-year-old twin sons. Jaime is confused and afraid but he's not crazy, and what he wants becomes apparent very slowly. Though Secret Service agent Ben Whistler's usual beat is the MI6 accounting department, he's summoned to the nursery school after Jaime tells the surrounding police that Ben is the only one he'll talk to. Then there's the matter of the quarter of a billion pounds that's been stolen from the Service. How Herron is able to tie all these events together will test the sleuthing ability of even the most savvy readers as one surprise engenders another. The intricate plot, coupled with Herron's breezy writing style ("Ben Whistler looked like what you got when you thought about a rugby player, then fixed his teeth"), results in superior entertainment that makes most other novels of suspense appear dull and slow-witted by comparison.