A roadside bomb and a group of highly trained armed men attack a convoy of VIP's in the Epping Forest as they head back to London following a major all parties and agencies conference on security and anti terrorism.
The Mayor and several others are dead, other prominent notables are badly injured and the identity of the attackers is a complete mystery.
But who was the real intended target and who else is in the assassins sights?
All is not what it seems...
The series reached double figures and my plan for a relatively simple shorter novel after the complex 'Lewisham' went a bit awry as one of the longest episodes in the series resulted.
In 'Epping' we are introduced to a new character who is set to become a regular feature later in the series whose presence and past forms the core from which future storylines dramatically develop.
"Oh this one is a right charmer" Divisional Commander Tracy Caverner of the National Security & Police Service commented as she worked her way through a huge pile of case files on her desk.
The time was now approaching four o'clock in the afternoon and it seemed to her that she had been confined in her office, situated on the top floor of New Scotland Yard in central London for the best part of the entire day.
On her unusually cluttered desk, the file that had triggered her remark was a situation report from the Intelligence Service, better known as MI5 about a particularly unpleasant looking suspect who, it had been reported had entered the country by way of Luton Airport approximately twenty four hours earlier.
"With a mug like that my friend" Tracy commented wryly "You are going nowhere."
The clock on the desk beside the photograph of herself and her husband the Regional Administrator General of the service, better known to all and sundry simply as the Commander declared the time as almost four o'clock.
"Stuff this" Tracy declared to herself as she closed the files on her desk and unceremoniously slung them in the in tray before reaching for her remote control and switching on the large flat screen television mounted on the office wall.
The BBC News 24 channel came on just as the usual jingle played into the seconds leading to the top of the hour and the main news headlines.
"Good afternoon, you are watching BBC News 24" the presenter announced as Tracy relaxed back in her chair "These are the main news headlines at four o'clock."
"Please don't interview my husband" Tracy offered her thought upwards more in hope than expectation.
"Representatives of the major law enforcement agencies plus a host of political dignitaries are gathered today at a conference centre in Essex to thrash out the issues of safety, security and the growing threat of global terrorism both within and outside the United Kingdom" the news broadcast continued as it showed various scenes of the delegates arriving including numerous high ranking members of the Security Service, the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.
Tracy continued to watch as the news broadcast continued to list the current headlines before returning to the main news item in which she was most interested.
"The first day of the conference has already featured extensive policy launches and lectures from some of the world's leading experts on security and anti-terrorism" the reporter outside the conference centre announced in the midst of the pouring rain with just a rather inadequate standard issue BBC umbrella for cover "The opening speeches were delivered by the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London who stressed the need for increased vigilance at all times from everyone."
"I bet you nodded off during that bit" Tracy remarked to the photograph of her husband on the desk, thankful that she had managed to get out of going to the conference, she had plenty of work to do keeping the Security Service running whilst all the top brass were out of town for the next week.
"In the next twenty minutes the conference is expected to hear from the Regional Administrator General for London and the South East which has already been described by one delegate as potentially the highlight of the day" the reporter continued.
"He'll bring the house down" Tracy responded raising her cup of coffee in salute with a wry smile.
"Hello Sis!" Jennifer Caverner, Tracy's identical twin sister and head of the VIP Protection Division announced as she put her head around the door.
"Come in" Tracy beckoned "If we are lucky we may just get to see my husband on the telly being all undiplomatic as usual."
"I thought he had got a press officer to help him with these public appearances now?" Jennifer asked as she took a seat.
"He had a press officer until two days ago" Tracy explained "Then she made the fatal mistake of suggesting that the Commander adopt the 'forward thinking ethos of the current parliamentary thinking methodology' and that was when he sent her on a free one way transfer to the Ports and Airports Division."
"Oh dear..." Jennifer responded "At Prestwick!" Tracy added.
"You've got to hand it to him" Jennifer remarked "He knows how to be unsubtle when he wants to."
"Anyway" Tracy remarked "Aren't you supposed to be in the deep dark depths of the Epping Forest transporting this bunch of political no necks?"
"They won't be finished for at least another three hours yet" Jennifer explained "There is the big buffet dinner at six o'clock with the representatives from the CIA and the US Government plus a couple of big wigs from the United Nations Security Council, a free feed to a politician is like manna from heaven."
"And they will probably still try to claim it on expenses" Tracy remarked.
"Well they better not run too late" Jennifer remarked "Simon is cooking dinner tonight."
"Commander Simon Fuller is cooking dinner?" Tracy remarked amazed "I thought he just micro waved everything to death?"
"One of the advantages of being married to me that I think he is coming to terms with" Jennifer explained "Unlike your husband, when it comes to cuisine, he is open to suggestion."
"Blimey..." Tracy responded.
"Continuing live coverage of the conference can be seen now over on BBC Parliament" the news presenter on the television announced causing Tracy to quickly change channels.
On the television, the picture had changed to a view inside the large conference centre where the Commander could be seen taking to the stage ever so slightly reluctantly with a semi prepared speech in his hand which appeared to consist of a few bullet points scrawled on the back of an old pocket Underground map, a feature that would come as no surprise in the least to anyone who knew him.
"Good evening" the Commander announced as on the screen his name and position appeared across the bottom of the picture just in case anyone was unaware who to who he might be "The last thirty years has seen an ever increasing level of violent crime not only in the city of London itself but nationwide, guns and knives are on every street corner and hardly a night goes by without some poor sod being carted off either dead or dying, often as the result of an unprovoked random attack."
"This is good" Jennifer remarked as she and Tracy shared a packet of crisps whilst watching the show.
"In many ways this is what I would call domestic terrorism" the Commander continued "Mostly young people, lost in the great system we call society, few if any prospects and forced to turn to crime in order to make ends meet or establish a reputation on the street."
"What I hope we will be able to do over the next few days is address this issue and through a combination of gentle persuasion and threatening the Home Secretary with a visit from me unless he increases my budget, put in place the tools to do the job" the Commander continued passionately.
"But that is not the only problem" the Commander carried on as nearby the camera picked up on the current Home Secretary looking understandably nervous "There used to be a time when the criminal fraternity had standards, unwritten rules, lines that were never crossed, sadly many of the old hands are long gone and now it's a free for all out there where innocent victims are caught up in major crimes of an increasingly intense, well organized and violent nature where greed becomes the most powerful force and anyone who gets in the way, irrespective of who they may be are swept aside often with fatal results."
"Then their is the big third problem" the Commander resumed after a brief pause as he looked around with a stern stare ensuring he had everyone's attention which he soon saw he had, no one would dare ignore him with his reputation "Terrorists, I hate these guys!"