cover image Siege of Khartoum

Siege of Khartoum

John Wilcox, Headline (Trafalgar Square, dist.), $9.99 (468p) ISBN 978-0-7553-4560-1

In Wilcox's intricate sixth novel of Britain's Victorian empire, army captain turned problem-solver Simon Fonthill (last seen in The Guns of El Kebir) and his Welsh comrade, "352" Jenkins, are sent to assist the forces of General Gordon in Khartoum, besieged by the messianic warlord known as the Mahdi. Meanwhile, Fonthill's fiancée, Alice, a strong-willed news reporter, finagles her way into the imbroglio. Can Fonthill, Alice, and 352 save Gordon and his forces, or will the siege end in disaster? Wilcox uses recorded statements from historical figures to give the fiction the aura of truth, though the dialogue occasionally feels forced. Exciting action, two powerful romantic leads, a strong supporting cast, and a deftly woven plot make for a compelling read, and the tightly wound suspense drives the novel toward its exhilarating conclusion. (Sept.)