Today Mandie is joining the blog tour for The Siege, the first fiction title from John Sutherland. I’ve read the author’s non fiction books about his time in the Met Police, and it’s fair to say we were both excited to hear he was venturing into crime fiction. Thanks to Tracy Fenton for the tour invite and to publisher Orion for the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Nine hostages. Ten hours. One chance to save them all.
Lee James Connor has found his purpose in life: to follow the teachings of far-right extremist leader, Nicholas Farmer. So when his idol is jailed, he comes up with the perfect plan: take a local immigrant support group hostage until Farmer is released.
Grace Wheatley is no stranger to loneliness having weathered the passing of her husband, whilst being left to raise her son alone. The local support group is her only source of comfort. Until the day Lee James Connor walks in and threatens the existence of everything she’s ever known.
Superintendent Alex Lewis may be one of the most experienced hostage negotiators on the force, but there’s no such thing as a perfect record. Still haunted by his last case, can he connect with Connor – and save his nine hostages – before it’s too late?
The Siege is the first fiction book written by John Sutherland but having read his memoir Blue a couple of years ago I was both excited and intrigued to read it. I was not disappointed, taking only a couple of days to finish it. This is not a book full of dramatic action but one that follows three key people, Alex, Grace and Lee during a hostage situation in a church hall. Each one of them have ghosts that are ever present during the events that take place and that form some of the decisions they make.
Alex is a police hostage negotiator who has had a near perfect success rate in all the incidents he has been called to. Unfortunately it is that one failure that has him doubting his abilities at times. Thankfully during those moments of self-doubt, he turns to his colleague Pip to talk things through and get him back on track. He is aware that the things he says could lead to an outcome that could be good or bad, but he has to try. These insecurities actually make him seem more real as we always assume that hostage negotiators are confident self-assured people (or at least that is how they are normally portrayed) and I found myself willing him to get everyone out safely.
Grace was the surprise to me. One of the hostages she initially was as scared as the rest of them but there was a steely determination in her that saw her wanting to get back to her son. Seeing past the hate of her captor, she slowly broke down his prejudices with simple acts of kindness and understanding all the while making sure her fellow hostages were kept safe. Her story was revealed as she attempted to bond with Cooper, trying to get him to see that apart from the colour of their skin they really were not that different after all.
Lee Cooper started out as a character that you could not like. Having been radicalised online into believing that all immigrants were bad and had to be removed by whatever means necessary, he had targeted the church hall due to their group that helped refugees. From the start nothing went the way he anticipated, despite his meticulous planning yet he was determined to see his plan through to the end, either gaining freedom for the person he looked up to or with the death of himself and all the hostages. Throughout he was plagued with self-doubt and paranoia but what he hadn’t counted on was Grace.
The Siege is different as it takes a balanced view of a hostage situation from the points of view of the ones affected the most, the negotiator, the hostage and the hostage taker, showing each one as human beings. You will find yourself hoping for the best possible outcome for all of them and this is due to the writing style of the author who has put his past experiences onto the page to make such believable characters.
About the Author
JOHN SUTHERLAND is a father of three who lives with his wife and children in south London. For more than twenty-five years he served as an officer in the Metropolitan Police, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent before his retirement on medical grounds in 2018. John is a sought after public speaker and commentator on a broad range of issues, who regularly appears on TV and radio and writes for major newspapers. His first book, BLUE, written and published while he was still serving in the Met, was a Sunday Times bestseller. It tells the remarkable stories of his policing life and describes his long road to recovery following the serious nervous breakdown that ended his operational policing career.