It was as if the entire City was holding its breath as the echoes of the explosions died away leaving only the cacophony of alarms amidst the smoke that started to clear to reveal the true extent of the devastation and tragedy...
Whilst the Security & Police Service were in time to prevent one tragedy, they were blinded to the real target and now someone had paid the price with their life.
From the flames emerged new threats and the very fabric of the Justice system in the UK and overseas comes under intense attack both from outside and within.
Concluding the thrilling cliffhanger set up by 'London Bridge', Cannon Street takes the story to the next level as chaos reigns supreme, power mad and corrupt people run amok and in the middle of all the the Security & Police Service struggle to cope with the madness.
This episode sees the further development of a couple of characters, at least one of which I intend to become a new regular. It also sees the retirement after twelve novels of an old stalwart of the series but don't rule out him coming back again one day....
PLEASE NOTE: John has suspended writing, so this is the last book in the series for the foreseeable future.
Smoke hung over the centre of London like an ominous dark cloak as the city stood still in a sense of shock at what had just happened.
In the river Thames in the shadow of London Bridge, fire fighters were still attending to the burning wreckage from where a bomb had exploded only minutes earlier, destroying the barge and tug boat in which it was being delivered, as well as a Security Service patrol vessel that had attempted in vain to stop it.
The explosion had brought the area to a shocked standstill but it was only the first of two terrorist attacks as a matter of minutes later whilst communications across the city were deliberately disrupted by those behind this fiendish plot, a car bomb had exploded in nearby Cannon Street, targeting the Prime Minister.
"We are under fire, need immediate backup!" Tracy Caverner called urgently into her radio as she and the Commander were forced to cower behind a parked car whilst they came under a massive hail of gunfire from a group of heavily armed men dressed in black and with balaclavas obscuring their faces.
Behind the gunmen in the centre of London's Cannon Street lay the badly wrecked remains of a black saloon car which only a minute or so earlier had been transporting the Prime Minister until it had been forced to stop before becoming the target of the car bomb.
"Tracy!" the Commander called across to his wife "How many rounds do you have left?" he asked.
"Half a clip" Tracy confirmed as she popped up over the car and fired off two rounds "A tad less now."
"Alpha One to any God damn station" the Commander called into his own radio with an unusual sense of desperation as all around the gunfire continued with a stand off now well and truly set in as both they, the Armed Response Unit officers and other members of the service continued to exchange fire with the gunmen.
"I think I can see Jenny!" Tracy called back to her husband, referring to her identical twin sister Jennifer who had been driving the Prime Minister's car at the time of the explosion and whose seemingly lifeless body could be seen lying in the road a short distance from the smouldering wreckage.
"Bloody radio frequencies are still down!" the Commander exclaimed "If we don't get any help in the next few minutes then we are well and truly done for."
"Butch and Sundance time I guess" Tracy admitted as the Commander fired his last shot which only succeeded in causing one of the attacking gunmen to duck briefly before he continued his attack.
"Doesn't look much like the Bolivian Army to me love" the Commander remarked "but we can't stay here much longer."
"Bob!" Tracy called across the street to the chief of the Armed Response Unit who with four of his officers were valiantly continuing the fire fight, all be it with little success "Could use some help over here!"
"Covering fire in ten seconds?" Bob called back in suggestion.
Tracy reluctantly nodded in agreement before she and the Commander exchanged an apprehensive look.
"Tracy, I love you" the Commander called, his eyes showing a hint of fear, a rare feature for him but understandable in the circumstances.
"I love you to" Tracy confirmed before she took a deep breath, held her gun close to her chest and seemed to offer a momentary silent prayer before she spun around back towards Bob and his team.
"All right, now!" she called whereupon Bob and his men jumped up and began to advance with a volley of gunfire that stopped the gunmen in their tracks.
"Go! Go! Go!" Bob called amid the hail of gunfire that was being exchanged.
Tracy quickly grabbed the Commander and all but threw him ahead of her as they made good their escape down the side of the street, only turning briefly to fire her last three rounds in the direction of the enemy.
Seeing that the main targets of the gunmen had now withdrawn, the leader, a rough but hard as nails man by the name of Harcourt quickly called to his men with a shrill whistle.
"Gentlemen, job done, time to go" Harcourt called in his gruff croaky voice "We are leaving!!"
In response they proceeded to lay down covering fire as they withdrew to a waiting van that pulled out of a side street, the side door of which opened up to allow them to pile inside.
The Commander doubled over in pain and collapsed at the corner of the street as soon as he and Tracy had made it out of range of the gunfire whereupon she was quickly at his side as he lay on the ground holding out is hand to her which she took and held tightly to make sure he knew she was there for him.
"Tracy, I can't see anything" the Commander called as he looked around but all that he could register was a blur, the result of concussion from being caught in the London Bridge explosion now taking its toll, adrenalin of the gunfight having been the only thing that had kept him going in the intervening minutes.
"It's all right love" Tracy anxiously called to her husband, "I'm here and I am not going anywhere."
"Jesus Christ!!" Sir Richard Crowthorne exclaimed as he and a team of officers came running up the road and found the two senior Security Service officers.
"Get as many armed officers as you can down there right now" Tracy requested, not taking her eyes off of her husband, instead merely indicating with her other arm down the length of Cannon Street "Bob and his boys are down there but they are running out of ammo fast."
"Come on lads" Sir Richard declared as he drew his old six shot revolver from deep inside his coat pocket "Let's get these bastards."
By the time Sir Richard and the officers with him had run down the length of Cannon Street and reached Bob and his team's position however, the gunmen were already bundled into their vehicle and making good their escape.
"Somebody stop them for Christ's sake!" Sir Richard called angrily down the street but it was too late, with no radio or mobile telephone networks working to issue instructions or make anyone aware of the fugitive vehicle, the gunmen made good their escape and disappeared out into the dense traffic of the City.
"Paramedics!" Bob called urgently back down the street as Sir Richard helped him to his feet before they both went over to the wrecked car to assess the true extent of the disaster.
"Bloody hell, she is still alive!" Bob called as he knelt down and checked Jennifer's body "I got a very faint pulse here" he confirmed.
Sir Richard meanwhile proceeded around to the other side of the wrecked car and tentatively looked inside the back, covering his mouth with a handkerchief, a barely insufficient barrier against the horror he then found.
"Oh God..." Sir Richard remorsefully remarked as he found the badly charred and mangled body of the Prime Minister inside "Sorry Sir, we let you down" he remarked mournfully before proceeding back over to Bob who by now had got Jennifer turned onto her back whilst a paramedic team came rushing up the street escorted by two ARU officers in case there were any gunmen still around.
"It's all right Jennifer" Bob called to her "We got you, you are going to be all right" he reassured her even though it was clear she was very seriously injured and extremely lucky to still be alive, all be it by the thinnest of threads.
"We are going to need the air ambulance for this one" one of the Paramedics confirmed "We have maybe ten minutes tops to get her into surgery before we lose her."
"Oh at last" Sir Richard responded when he saw he now had a signal on his mobile telephone as the strangle hold on the city's communications was released "I'll take care of that" he confirmed.
"Anyone else in the car?" the other Paramedic asked.