Characters Gabriel Ash, the father, intelligence officer
Cathy Ash, his wife, who’s been kidnapped and held captive with their two sons, Guy and Gilbert for four years in Somalia
Hazel Best, the constable on leave who befriends Gabriel after his wife and children’s abduction
At the beginning of this tale, Gabriel Ash is meeting with his psychiatrist, Laura Fry in the presence of Hazel Best, a friend and police officer, after just discovering that his wife, whom he believed to have been kidnapped and murdered by Somali pirates, is alive. He has just talked to her via computer and is convinced that she is alive and well. It turns out that his two sons are also alive, but what he has to do to get them back safely to England is ghastly. He has been instructed by the pirates that he must kill himself live on the internet before they can be sent home. The two women advise him to call the police but he refuses to do so, saying that leaving the police out of it is part of the deal. However, Hazel is still a member of the police force, although persona-non-grata at the moment, so some collaboration is done. There is another female present at the meeting in the form of Gabriel’s dog, a lurcher named Patience. Lurchers are apparently a cross-breed dog found in Britain between a sight hound, usually a greyhound, and some type of terrier or collie. Patience is taken in by Hazel after Gabriel carries out the demands of the kidnappers but she isn’t your average dog. As Hazel puts it, Patience can say more with the angle of her nose than can be expressed in an essay. But the plot in this story has lots of twists and turns as Hazel is determined to find the pirates responsible for her friend’s death even after his wife and boys are safely home in Norbold. Gabriel’s wife won’t have a dog in her house so Hazel keeps her even though it means she will have to move out of her rented flat and into a small house. Now that she has the extra room, Hazel also takes in a young homeless man called Saturday, a nickname given to him while in care by the other kids, because being Jewish, he was ‘excused on Saturdays’. As Saturday tries to clean up his act Hazel keeps puzzling out the threads of what actually happened to Cathy Ash and the two boys and why her story doesn’t quite add up.
An interesting and readable book and even thought the plot takes some fairly wild turns I found it completely believable due to the skill of the writer’s story telling.