author: Richard Hubert Francis Cox
Written in 1977, you could look at this as a precursor of all the technothrillers that flourished in the 80s and 90s. It’s a what-if tale loaded with technical details.
The book starts strong, with Mossad hitting a Palestinian terror cell in Paris and stealing paperwork about planned attacks. There’s then a lot of shuffling of characters across the globe to get them into place. This bit ground on a bit, with far too much telling rather than showing, and, I admit, there were moments when I thought about putting the book down. But I didn’t, and was rewarded. The last two thirds to three quarters of the tale used all the setting up very well.
With all the characters and equipment in place, the main event takes place. A DC10 airliner coming in to land at Heathrow, is shot down and crashes onto central London, specifically, Victoria station at rush hour. As the emergency services do what they can, the politicians start looking for scapegoats and the media act like ghouls.
It’s all very convincing, and, in some ways, still contemporary. The conflict that the act of terror springs from- Israel and Palestine- is still going on. In fact, the biggest and strangest difference for me from the jet set age of the mid seventies was the way that airline passengers could happily light up a cigarette in flight.