Wilbur Smith has written 33 books and I have read them all. The minute I see a new book from him in a book shop I buy it straight away. His latest book is called "Those in Peril" and is not based on any of the dynasties that he has written about in the past.
|Image form Amazon.co.uk.|
"Those in Peril" is basically about Somali pirates. This is not one of Smith's best offerings, but is for the most part a very good yarn that his fans will enjoy. It is fast paced, bloodthirsty, and violent - but contains the usual love interest and fantastic descriptions of Africa (though the latter is less than in most of his books as a lot of the action is at sea). The central characters are Hector Cross and Hazel Bannock - two almost unbelievable and rich people that most of us can only dream about.
There are plenty of twists and turns - Smith certainly knows how to keep the action going, and his usual graphic descriptions of death may make you squirm. Unlike other novels - there are no descriptions of rich heavily armed hunters killing helpless animals. So un-PC nowadays.
The first 200 pages are high octane - if made into a film it would cost a fortune! But extraordinarily, the book falls completely flat for 40 pages (pages 222-262 to be precise). What a bore this section is, until we get back into the action. You can skip these pages and not miss anything. The end, and climax, is nail-biting - I was expecting it to be predictable, but I was wrong.
A final criticism of an otherwise good read is the thinly veiled racism towards Somalis. It's clear that Smith has little time for them - expressed by his central character who kill them by the dozen. This is a "good guys" versus the "bads guys" where the good guys are good at everything, and the bad guys get almost everything wrong. There is also a completely useless map inside the cover - none of the place-names (other than the Puntland region) used in the book are shown on the map.
Recommended for Wilbur Smith fans - an ordinary read for those new to Smith.