It is quite unusual to read a book that is so firmly fixed not just in a distinct location but also a clearly signposted time. On the one hand it runs the risk of dating the material but on the other it has the benefit of making you feel you can identify with the events because you remember also watching most of them on the news. Hut after the first 40 odd pages there is enough here to make you plan to stick with it.
One relative sat me down and told me once that it was almost impossible to convey the fear that people lived under during the Cuban missile crisis. People really thought that they were going to die as victims of a nuclear war. You sense there is some attempt being made here to convey the sense of fear that pervaded, and still does, society following the launching of the war of terror post 9/11.
But there is something else here that draws you in and that is an equal sense of identification. Although the main character is a 40 something brain surgeon who clearly lives in one of the more exclusive parts of London his thoughts are those of our own and it made me picture not just what was described in the book but also trigger some of my own memories.
Things start with Henry the brain surgeon waking in the middle of the night, opening his window and seeing an aeroplane streaking across the London skyline with an engine on fire. After thinking about his day and how successful he is at his job the thought that the terror that is a backdrop to everyday life has struck again and his is a witness disturbs him enough to make him wander downstairs and put on the news and watch it with his blues musician 18 year old son.
The plane lands safely and the two crew of the Russian cargo plane are unhurt but there has been enough done here in the opening chapter to make you wonder what will happen next