Today I’m sharing my thoughts on The Chosen Seven by Gillian D. Anderson. My thanks to the author who provided a copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
FARZAD ABED is an unhinged Iranian immigrant living in Australia. His sociopathic tendencies coupled with his political views make him a very dangerous man indeed. Farzad wants the world to sit up and take notice of him and randomly selects six bystanders to hold hostage at a city restaurant.
JACOB BROWN is a fitness fanatic who finds himself at the centre of a bizarre situation when he arrives at his favourite restaurant to pick up a takeaway for dinner.
JAGRITI GOSHAL is a young unassuming Indian waitress working at Alessandro’s Cucina.
REGINA TERRY is a fearless Afro-American woman in Australia on a business visa who unexpectedly finds herself embroiled in a crazy siege with a madman.
LEVI HAINES and BILL WALKER are colleagues having a business dinner at the restaurant. Bill is Levi’s sleazy boss with unethical intentions and Levi is dining with him against her will.
PAUL TOWNSEND is a local electrician who happens to drop off a quote at Alessandro’s Cucina at the same time Farzad descends on the restaurant to begin taking hostages.Available from: Amazon
Follow the roller coaster ride of emotions as these strangers find themselves embroiled in a terrifying siege orchestrated by a madman. The authorities scramble to put together a definitive plan of action to contain the situation quickly. But not everyone will come out alive …
The premise of this book is an interesting one. Six strangers thrown into an unenviable situation when they are taken hostage in a restaurant by a man determined to make a political message, to be heard. He shows quickly that he is not afraid to kill, shooting one diner for making too much noise and then murdering her husband when he tries to retaliate, and so there is no doubt that the six are in trouble and, along with the Gunman, they are destined to be the ‘Chosen Seven’, the fortunate few, at least in the killer’s mind, who will make the ultimate sacrifice. Their lives.
They are a very diverse bunch of characters, exactly as you would expect from a random gathering at a city restaurant, and the author really plays on those differences. From the jock who is all muscle and no real bravado, the timid and scared mother who just wants to get home to her family, tha balshy and brash New Yorker and the quiet but focused student nurse who is trying to earn some extra money by working in the restaurant, they have very different personalities and very different back stories which make up the majority of the story. We spend more time with them and their lives outside of the actual action than we do in the siege itself, so get to know who we do and don’t like pretty quickly.
And this is where I struggled with the story a little. There was a lot of time focused on unconnected episodes in their lives, one or two back stories and sub-plots that didn’t seem to drive the action on or make any difference to the actual story itself or to move it along. More time was spent telling use why they were bad or good people, rather than demonstrating it by their actions in the actual hostage situation which would have been more telling. There wasn’t really anything from those glimpses into the private lives that really made me any more invested in them as potential victims. And at times their characters seemed a little cliched, too over the top and pandering to stereotype – the sleazy misogynistic boss. The Iranian terrorist with sociopathic tendencies … The sporty kid who is all gloss and no substance … And then there was the investigative team. Within 20 mins of the siege starting they seemed to have identified both the perpetrator and his motives which seems a little too fast even for the best team in the country. Given that Farzad had set a one hour deadline for action it was inevitable but still … The behaviour of the police and the Psychologist did not ring true both in the language used and unprofessional way in which they divulge information to the waiting families.
As I said earlier, it was an interesting premise but it lacked the authenticity I would be looking for in this kind of story. Even if procedure wasn’t spot on, I’d have expected to find more plausible actions or even tension but perhaps too much time was spent telling us about people’s marital problems or sexual exploits back on New York to really create the sense of fear and ticking clock atmosphere that this kind of story needs to keep it powering along. At times I found myself willing the gunman to actually shoot some of the hostages they had so few redeeming qualities, and I didn’t develop the sense of place or feeling of fear that I would have hoped for in an hostage novel.
About the Author
Gill was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and immigrated to Adelaide, South Australia in 2004 with her husband and two daughters. Gill has a Social Work background and currently works in a corporate role in the field of Child Protection. Gill feels very strongly about violence and sexual assault which are prominent themes in her debut novel Hidden From View.
Author Links: Twitter