Cover image of "Eye of the Storm," a novel in which the author tries reimagining Saddam Hussein

In Eye of the Storm, British thriller writer Jack Higgins reimagines the story behind the mortar attack on 10 Downing Street that took place in 1991 shortly after John Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. The attack took place during the early days of the First Gulf War, when Baghdad was under attack from the air and a land invasion was imminently expected. The Provisional IRA engineered the attack, which mirrored its tactics in Northern Ireland. Instead, Higgins puts the blame on a former Provisional IRA hit man named Sean Dillon working as a mercenary for the KGB and its client, Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein gets the blame

Eye of the Storm reflects the historical record in many respects, including the details of the attack. The fanciful hinge on which the story turns is the role of Saddam Hussein, who appears as a minor character in the novel. The hardened mercenary Sean Dillon takes the honors at the center of the plot. Two other favorite characters from Higgins’ stable round out the cast: Martin Brosnan and even the now aging Liam Devlin, both of them reformed ex-IRA terrorists now reincarnated as university professors. The three way relationship among Dillon, Brosnan, and Devlin is at the heart of the story. All three, and even the many lesser characters in the novel, are brilliantly drawn; their personalities leap off the page. Higgins tells the tale with supreme command of pacing and momentum, building suspense steadily to a crescendo. He makes terrorism credible.

Eye of the Storm (Sean Dillon #1) by Jack Higgins ★★★★☆

About the author

British novelist Harry Patterson has written most of his 84 novels under the pseudonym Jack Higgins. Though he began writing in 1959, his breakthrough came only in 1975, with the publication of The Eagle Has Landed, which sold fifty million copies. The book introduced the Irish terrorist Liam Devlin and was followed years later by three additional novels about him. Clearly, Higgins was enamored of Irish terrorists. Following his first appearance in 1979 in The Judas Gate, the younger IRA gunman Sean Dillon was the central character in twenty-one subsequent novels. Eye of the Storm, published in 1992, was the first of those.

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