Monday, July 5, 2010

The Siege by Stephen White

The Siege by Stephen White. Dutton Books: A Division of The Penguin Group (USA), Inc. August 2009. ISBN #: 9780525951223

Disappointment seems a mild word but can inspire terrible deeds! A number of high profile students at Yale University have been kidnapped and are being held hostage. One by one, the exit a fortress-like building on the Yale University campus and no one knows whether each one will live or die. Very little, in fact, is known about who is directing this horrific scenario unfolding which has even the best criminal officers and investigators stymied. What becomes quickly clear is that this monster killer doesn't want money or any other such expected commodity that can be bargained for the lives of a group of America's most promising students.

Sam Purdy, a suspended Boulder City, Colorado police detective; Deirdre Drake, a CIA analyst; Christopher Poe, an FBI counter-terrorism agent; and Christine Carmody, a New Haven Police negotiator spend hours trying to figure out the siege increasing in intensity because no one can predict who will live and who will die. Their questions and speculations parallel that of the other multiple law enforcement officials swarming outside the building holding the Yale secret society initiates and members.

It's a wild, tension-packed account that never wanes right up to the very last page. It also turns out that a similar event has scarred Agent Poe in a way that frequently comes close to totally debilitating him - posttraumatic syndrome at its most powerful and horrendous level. Each parent of the hostage students has something to bargain with as the stakes begin to become obvious. Will they be strong enough to stay quiet and submit to the demands of the terrorist or contact officials and thereby lose everything?

The Siege is a tautly written, well-researched and realistic novel of a reality that could possibly be the next face of the evolving War of Terror on a local and/or global scale. One wants to pull away from this nightmarish scenario but is compelled to keep reading, having vicariously become part of the lives of these credible and amazing characters!

Superbly done, Stephen White!

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