The Siege by Stephen White (Review #2)

siegeReviewed by Woodstock

Boulder cop Sam Purdy is a guest at a fancy party on a fancy yacht, hosted by a wealthy couple. Sam is feeling more than a little out of place when his hostess asks him to help her understand the implications of an enigmatic note she has received. Although there is no explicit threat to anyone in her family, the worried mother cannot calm her rising unease – after several days of no contact from her daughter, who is a student at Yale.

Almost before he knows it, Sam is on his way to Connecticut, and becomes an involved bystander in a kidnapping of several students and a simultaneous terrorist threat to some of the most valuable buildings and artifacts on the Yale campus.

Campus police, New Haven police, the FBI, and several other investigating agencies are on the scene with heavy armor and weaponry, seeking to understand the exact nature of the situation. They are able to determine that all the standard approaches they might use to gain entrance to the building are heavily booby trapped. Some hostages are released safely, others die in the most public and gruesome manners imaginable.

White got this one off with a bang, I read the first 80 pages or so almost without stopping. Unfortunately, the tension began to sag about a third of the way through. Although the reader eventually understands the motivation for the siege, the perpetrators are almost walk-on characters. The ethical questions posed by the events are quite clear; and as in real life, the appropriate response remains murky.

White introduces two new characters who may become repeaters – a rogue FBI agent coping with the accumulated psychic stress of his many assignments; and a CIA operative who faces personal problems of her own.

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