Written by Gerald Seymour, Holding the Zero is an action-packed novel depicting the life and journeys of a crack-shot Englishman, Gus Peake, who is recruited to serve for the rebellious Kurds of Northern Iraq. He is bound to the Kurds because they harboured his father away from the Iraqi army when he was serving in the country for the British Army. There are, of course, other characters in the book: for example, the plot also follows a pair of MI6 investigators who have taken an interest in the disappearance of Peake and are eventually led, after a series of interviews, to Iraq. The other main character is a professional sniper, an officer in the Iraqi Army, and his quest both for freedom and for Peake (he has been assigned by his seniors to hunt and kill the Briton who has 'picked off' various Army commanders on the frontier with the Kurdish territory) is followed closely by the story which frequently jumps around at the beginning, making it hard to 'get into'. This technique does, however, add to the tension of the book and is well-used by Seymour.
The book's denouement occurs in a valley in Northern Iraq when the two marksmen 'face up', each pitting his wits and concealment skills in an effort to kill the other. The last few paragraphs focus more on the emotional and mental side of things, whereas at the beginning it is mainly just narration. Tension is at its height at this point and I consider Seymour to be one of the best manipulators of the reader's mind in the writing business.
Other books by Gerald Seymour
Line in the Sand, 2001
Waiting Time, 1998
Dead Ground, 2000
Killing Ground, 1997
Fighting Man, 1995
Heart of Danger, 1995
Journeyman Tailor, 1993
Harry’s Game, 1975
Some interesting facts about Seymour
Born in Guildford, Surrey, on November 25th 1941.
He joined ITN in 1963, covering The Great Train Robbery, Vietnam, Ireland, The Munich Olympics massacre, Germany's Red Army, Italy's Red Brigade, and Palestinian groups.
His first book was Harry’s Game, published in 1975. Seymour then gave up reporting.