A number of students seem to have disappeared from the Yale campus, including some very high profile kids; the sons of both the Secretary of Defense and the newest Supreme Court Justice. The Yale Campus Police and the New Have PD don’t know if it’s terrorism, kidnapping or something completely unforeseen. Suspended Boulder police officer, Sam Purdy goes to Yale at the behest of a friend, in the hopes of finding her missing daughter. It quickly becomes apparent that whoever is holding these kids, in the windowless, tomb-like building has a much different agenda than has ever been seen before. With the unseen perpetrator issuing no demands, refusing to speak with negotiators, seemingly unconcerned about getting away and anticipating every move that law enforcement makes, it is up to Sam and his newly acquired FBI and CIA “associates”, Christopher Poe and Deirdre Drake, to solve this riddle before any more students are killed.
Stephen White writes a frighteningly realistic scenario in his new novel, The Siege. Not only does the plot seem perfectly plausible, it seems uncannily prophetic. In the words of one of the characters, a post 9/11 analyst for the FBI, Poe:
“Yeah. Well, welcome to my world. I’ve been imagining that terrorist since a few weeks after Nine/eleven. I go to bed at night wondering what our world will be like if the next angry man isn’t using all his energy trying to figure out how to get a shoe bomb onto a plane. Isn’t spending all his resources trying to choreograph a way to get shampoo bombs onto ten different planes. I stay up at night petrified that the next angry man will be focused and determined. Innovative and imaginative.
“What if the next angry man is brilliant? An entrepreneur? An innovator? What if he’s thought up a way to hurt us that we haven’t even begun to imagine?”
Unnerving, isn’t it?
The plot of The Siege was brilliantly conceived, but I loved the characters even more. I’ve been a fan of White’s Alan Gregory series since its inception, but I really love this book where Gregory's friend, Sam Purdy takes center stage. Sam is great character, and even in the midst of all the suspense, his down to earth nature can cause laugh out loud moments for the reader.
Says Sam to himself, after a helpful young concierge suggested he might want to “freshen up or change clothes” before the party:
I didn’t really know about changing. Into what? Or freshening up. I certainly wouldn’t admit it if I was back home in Boulder, but I considered freshening up to be girl thing. The honest truth was that my well-worn Fruit of the Looms had started riding up the crack of my butt shortly after the seat-belt sign went on over the Gulf of Mexico. A private moment to coax them back into position a little farther south of my continental cleft would be a welcome thing indeed.
How can you not love a guy that thinks like that? Sam is big and burly, smart and witty, and as lovable as a growly teddy bear. He makes a great protagonist in the story, and I’d love to see many more novels featuring his character. I hope that White can incorporate Poe and Deirdre into a future plot line too. I’m interested in knowing where he could take their characters and relationship as well.
If you’re looking for an excellent, gut-clenching, page turning suspense story, The Siege is the book you’re looking for. Stephen White says it took “five years banging around in my brain” and those five years produced a "Yale Whale" of a story.