Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

I’ve always found it strange how, the older you get, time just seems to flyby uncontrollably! When you compare a full day in work and a day in school the two are incomparable – oh and don’t get me started on the holiday phenomenon! Why do two week holidays never feel like two weeks? With all this in mind – and there is a point to my ramble honest! – when I received Wilbur Smith’s latest African thriller “Those in Peril” from Pan Macmillan it made me sit back and think when I last read a Wilbur Smith novel.

After my memory recall was severely tested I came to the conclusion that it was approximately 15 years ago – the book was “The Seventh Scroll” – the second in the Egyptian series following the amazing “River God – review”.

Those in Peril” is my first African based novel from Wilbur Smith – the Egyptian series has always fascinated me and I’ve always given his African genre a wide berth (no idea why!) – and given the recent events in Somalia the subject matter is incredibly relevant and up to date. As of last month Somali pirates are holding 31 vessels and 688 hostages, this includes the latest victims – a Danish family of five including three teenagers – incredible.

“Hazel Bannock is the heir to the Bannock Oil Corp, one of the major oil producers with global reach. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, Hazel’s private yacht is hijacked by African pirates. Hazel is not on board at the time, but her nineteen year old daughter, Cayla, is kidnapped and held to ransom. The pirates demand a crippling twenty billion dollar ransom for her release. Complicated political and diplomatic considerations render the civilized major powers incapable of intervening.

When Hazel is given evidence of the horrific torture which Cayla is being subjected to, she calls on Hector Cross to help her rescue her daughter. Hector is the owner and operator of Cross Bow Security, the company which is contracted to Bannock Oil to provide all their security. He is a formidable fighting man. Between them Hazel and Hector are determined to take the law into their own hands.”

“Those in Peril” also available in Kindle (ebook) format

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

The first thing that struck me about “Those in Peril” is the novel’s incredibly graphic nature – Wilbur certainly holds nothing back – the murders are brutal and the rape scenes are intense to say the least – one thing I can say with absolute certainty, this book will not leave you wondering! The book examines Muslim religion in depth, how Westerners react to Sharia Law and how radical Muslims despise Westerners with a passion. Some people may feel he went too far with his sex scenes but I guess the jury is still out on this one.

Religion is and will always be a sensitive subject, it doesn’t matter who you talk to, and Smith certainly pulls no punches in this book. He tackles the subject head on and it really does take you through a range of emotions – understanding the militant faction is a whole new ball game and one I’ll never, or want to, comprehend.

The narrative is astonishingly fresh and grabs you from the start. I found the flow interesting – on the edge action scenes, realistic scenarios and fluidity that will leave you breathless counteract Smith’s steady scene building prose – unquestionably masterful, why on earth had I left it so long between novels?

As I mentioned earlier the Somali pirates is an on-going problem in the Indian Ocean, a problem that appears to be growing on a daily basis despite a multinational patrol attempting to enforce a reduction of illegal activity. The foundation for “Those in Peril” centres on the pirates marauding the area and Smith blends fiction and real life realistically, making everything plausible.

Characterisation is always important in a novel – get it wrong and no matter how good the narrative, you’ve got no chance of making it to the end! Hector Cross is a “boys own” character who doesn’t disappoint! A determined character, Cross is your stereotypical leading man – handsome, brave, good with a gun and intelligent – someone you’d like to spend time with and have in your corner. His nemesis is the complete opposite – The Sheik is a nasty bit of work, violent, unhinged, evil and conforming to his religious beliefs he appears to have a lack of morals, nothing or no one will stand in his way – no matter the cost.

With numerous twists and turns and a couple of jaw dropping events, “Those in Peril” will take you one way and then the other and at no time can you say with certainty you’ll know what lies around the corner. With a wonderful descriptive and atmospheric narrative, Smith is undoubtedly a master of the thriller genre delivering a pulsating battle between good and evil – whose side will you be on?!.

Published by Pan Macmillan “Those in Peril” is available from Amazon & The Book Depository.

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79 Responses to “Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith – Book Review”

  1. David null Bradwell says:

    I have been a fan of wibur smiths books for many years.
    I believe the first may have been called ” Caliph ” I was hooked from then on. The courtneys and ballantyne were great.

    The books about the nile etc were unputdownable.
    I have passed the word to many about this authorWhen the latest comes available at my local store then i will get it.

  2. mark morgan says:

    In-depth and exciting review. Have read and re read all Mr Smiths books and love them all, those some more than others. I prefer the older settings to the new so was disappointed when found this was to be based in modern times. But your review makes it sound like a typical exciting can’t put down Wilful Smith adventure. Im looking forward to reading it. Thanks.

  3. Doug Owens says:

    I have been reading Wilbur Smith’s books for over 20 years. My brother has ” The Leopard Hunt’s in darkness ” signed by Mr.Smith. I own and have read every book, and have turned lot’s of my friends into avid reader’s. I feel he is the best author in the world. I have had “Those in Peril” ordered from Barnes and Noble for a couple month’s. It wont be here until sometime in May. I can’t wait.

  4. Meron says:

    I have read `all i can get of Wilbur Smith’s books.The Ballantynes the courtneys and everything that comes on the way with Wilbur on it. The almost realistic and true colour that he gives africa have always astonished me. It is kind of electrifying when wilbur carries us through those incredible moments of Love and hate, Hope and despair,pain and relief,life & death,he brings it all. I am sure Wilbur smith will always remain to impress us with every word he writes. God bless you.

  5. don may says:

    Wilbur Smith is one of the greatest authors of all time and the greatest storyteller ever.Whenever I read one of his books it fels as though I can step into the story and experience it for myself. Viva Wilbur Smith!

  6. Massimo says:

    letto tutti i libri di wilbur !!! sempre in attesa di nuovi libri per rinnovare i “viaggi in africa” col mitico ed impareggiabile Smith nel descrivere paesaggi, personaggi ed avventure da leggere tutte d’un fiato.

  7. Jaisimha says:

    I love reading Wilbur Smiths books. The characterisation is so good that we can virtually be there in the places. Be it Egypt, Africa or the Seas.

  8. nasirkhan says:

    l am an adict of Wilbur Smith since 1991. though I didn’t read his last two novels yet, but I blieve they’ll be great adventures too. Africa always fascinated me, have read every book or novel set in Africa, but it was mr Smith who opened a window in my mind through his graphic storytelling to show me what Africa really is. He stands alone in a class of hisself, he is simply GREAT & INCOMPAREABLE.

  9. Johann Mendelsohn says:

    I have read al WS’s books, for many years, but I think this last one is too much of a “Clive Cusslar”, it does not give credit to him, the sex seems to have gone to his head, does one really need these detailed versions of each escapade to do the thing, shame on him!

  10. Ruth Balsam says:

    Wilbur Smith has given me a love for a country I will probably never see….Africa. It is a land of beauty and brutality. Thank you Mr Smith the the many hours of joy reading your wonderful novels.

  11. Aren Knudsen says:

    I have to agree with Johann Mendelsohn, I couldn’t wait to get Those in Peril and must say that I feel it is lacking the usual depth that Wilbur Smith usually puts into his books. It is very “Clive Cussler”ish. I can’t help but say that I am a bit disappointed.

  12. Neal Collins says:

    I’ve ready Wilbur all my life. We even attended the same university. Yet I’m struck by his stereo-types now, his eagerness to portray Africa and Africans as barbaric savages, his love of the macho, invariably white hero… and I find myself thinking: The bloke should have retired while he was ahead. In his Courtney novels he proclaimed the Mfecane as fact (it was in fact an Apartheid construct, suggesting South Africa was basically empty when the Boer charged north), in his Egyptian novels, he led us to believe Egyptian civilisation was barbaric… and Peril hardly put the Somali side of the story. Sure piracy ain’t great… but sometimes, these things need to be put in perspective. Smith should have retired years ago… his rantings are rushed, superficial and mired in his own upbringing. Won’t waste any more money on that sort of guff. Peril was hardly a pearl.

  13. Al Trimm says:

    WS’s my main man. I can’t say Those in Peril is his best effort but it is good. I just finished it and was sorry to see it end. The only thing I’ve found better than reading a WS book is reading it the second time. I always find something I missed first time around.

  14. stephanie says:

    “Those In Peril” is a typical fast-paced Smith story, but compared to previous epics, such as the Courtney novels, Seventh Scroll etc, this latest book is rather thin in content, and lacks depth. Smith just seems to write to a formula, with too much emphasis on graphic sex scenes (why is every single p..s described as humungous & roped with thick veins? Yuk). He glibly glides through horrendous trauma suffered by his characters, who emerge with virtually not a hair out of place. In the real world, the emotional toll would be crippling, and not something glossed over in a paragraph or two. Mr Smith is showing his age by not making the effort he used to. In this book, you couldn’t even ‘feel’ the emotion of the characters; it was difficult to empathise or engage with them. Disappointing.

  15. John McGee says:

    I have read and enjoyed all of Wilbur Smith’s books and Those in Peril was no exception. I couldn’t put it down! My only complaint is the unreality of the marathon times! 2:11 would make them both Olympic qualifiers!

  16. SanBan says:

    I have been an avid fan of Wilbur Smith ever since I first read his ‘Eagle in the sky’. Have been hooked since. However ‘Those in Peril’ was a big let down – it almost felt like it was not a Wilbur Smith work – but ghostwritten by some one else.

  17. Jeff Bounds says:

    This seems more like a Clive Cussler novel than a Wilbur Smith story. I enjoyed it but like SanBan, I feel that ther is a little soemthing something missing….

  18. Pierre Marx says:

    Many years ago (in grade 9 at school) I got into a fist-fight and broke my left hand – a day before exams started. Thus, I could not write and was sent out of the exam hall for distracting everybody else. The next morning I grabbed a book from my father’s shelf – “Hungry as the Sea”. I only understood every third word, but was hooked on Wilbur Smith…

    “Those in Peril” took me back to those schoolboy days when the heros were larger than life, the galls ooh-lah-lah and the pace on steroids…

  19. john middleton says:

    I found it hard to put down especially the first 150 pages, then it went like a mills and boon novel, picked up again later, but as some one else noted very much like a Cussler book, the end was also very expected. Not one of his best

  20. M.Migliore says:

    Huge disappointment! I can’t believe he wrote this. No depth of character, no suspense, predictable after the first hour or so of reading….a big stinkeroo!! The overly descriptive sex scenes added nothing to the plot. Shame on you, Wilbur Smith. I loved your other novels.

  21. JIM GOLDMAN says:

    One of the best he has ever. I could not put it down.
    After the Quest i thought he was done. But boy was i wrong.
    Thanks for a great read.

  22. Sandy simpson says:

    I aggree with M. Migliore ,I doubt very much that Wilber Smith could write such a weak story Its so predictable and dull.Sean Courtney was a mans man ,Hector Cross is a disappointing excuse for a hero.The last two novels have been a let down.

  23. John van Rensburg says:

    They say that the older a man gets the more obsessed they become about sex, this certainly seems to be the case.

  24. Moose says:

    Hi. Like all you guys I am a widely read Wilbur fan. From Australia I have found out much about Africa. I thought the champ was done and dusted after The Quest. A terrible novel. I have just finished Those In Peril and loved it although after they rescued Cayla it got a bit dull. I thought the ending was a clever idea and I look forward to the next novel.

  25. Mark Buehler says:

    This was the worst book Smith has even thought about, never mind written. From such greatness we must suffer this? This was written by a sophomoric girl during class breaks. Please don’t embarass yourself further and get back on track.

  26. InsertNameHere says:

    Well this is the first Wilbur Smith novel I’ve read and I have to say I was deeply disappointed having had him recommended to me. The plot and the attitudes of the characters are completely ridiculous and the pacing is all wrong.

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