Saturday, July 28, 2018

Time of Terror: Review

Time of Terror (1975) is the eleventh book in Hugh Pentecost's (aka Judson Phillips) series featuring the Hotel Beaumont's legendary manager, Pierre Chambrun. The Beaumont is known for its elegant calm and Chambrun is the man who sees that it stays that way. But the calm is broken when a one-armed man named Colonel Coriander wearing a child's pirate's mask (a la 1970s plastic, covers-the-whole-face style) and a black fright wig takes the children of a British diplomat hostage and claims he has rigged the entire fifteenth floor with explosives--enough to cut Chambrun's beautiful hotel in half. He says he represents a group called the Army for Justice and the justice they are looking for is on behalf of the men and women who served in Vietnam. In fact he has a small army of thirty posted all over the fifteenth floor with enough ammo to hold off the marines (or whoever Chambrun wants to send their way). 

They just have a few demands. Nothing too difficult--just the release of thousands of political prisoners in South Vietnam, 50 million dollars (so they can rehabilitate those prisoners), the release of veterans being held in jail for killing North Vietnamese citizens....and the replacement of those veterans with the military brass in command who were really responsible for the activities in Vietnam. Chambrun knows quite well that these demands are impossible to meet. At best, they might come up with a portion of the money demanded. So, he has to work with men from the State Department, FBI, and local law enforcement to come up with a plan that will see the girls released safely, the criminals caught, and will leave his beloved hotel in one piece.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Pentecost's The Fourteen Dilemma a couple of years ago, this is an exciting and fast-paced story, but Pentecost expects a huge amount of belief suspension in these stories. I know that Chambrun has served as a member of the French Resistance in World War II, but it's still hard to swallow some of the details in these stories. For instance, we're supposed to cheerfully believe that someone was able to smuggle thirty men plus all that weaponry plus all those explosives into the hotel without anybody noticing. Uh-huh. But despite all that, Chambrun is a powerful personality and so well-written we're willing to go along with Pentecost just for the sake of another exciting adventure at the Beaumont. I was very thankful that the girls come out of their ordeal safely and all in one piece (Coriander makes threats about sending ears and fingers if there's any delay...). ★★ for a solid, fast-paced mystery.

[Finished on 7/20/18]

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