In Test of Resolve by Peter Murphy Ellen Trevathan, the President of the United States has very publicly come out as a lesbian on American TV. Against a background of public backlash from this announcement, her partner’s daughter is kidnapped by a group of Kashmiri fundamentalists whille attending a law course in the United Kingdom. The clock is ticking and the real ransom demand must be kept secret from all but a very few, as the cost of freeing Dani Ryan, and the decision to be made, is something which no-one should ever have to face, let alone a head of state. Ellen Trevathan now confronts the ultimate public and personal conflict.
Exciting and packed with tension this is a story set against a campaign demanding the President’s resignation because of her relationship with another woman. At the same time the impact of Kashmir’s violent past and the actions of the movement who wish to free it from Pakistani and Chinese influence, directly impacts on her personal and public life. At one point Bev, the “sleeper” who plays his own part in events, talks about “people against people and religion against religion” and it is this sense of a larger picture which brings an added dimension to the novel.
The author, Peter Murphy, has worked in the legal system both in England and the US and he was a defence counsel for several years in the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. This firm foundation in matters legal and constitutional is certainly evident in the book. The FBI, the British Police force, the SAS – all play their part as the story reaches a spine tingling edge of the seat conclusion.
Some moral and ethical issues to discuss here in a reading group but also as a personal read this novel is absolutely compelling. I certainly couldn’t put it down until I had reached the final page.