A terrorist hijacking in Lebanon forces Americans and Russians to collaborate on a rescue mission and brings a British journalist back to the Middle East and the scene of his wife's murder. Techno-gimmicks support rather than overpower this second thriller by the author of Angel, Archangel (1990). The story opens with a bang. Someone, an Islamic fundamentalist, we are to assume, blows up a huge, brand-new, Syrian natural-gas pump just as its Russian builders turn over the keys to the new owners. The project's designer, one of the few survivors at the scene, is kidnaped. Within days, hijackers, again presumably Islamic fundamentalists, grab a 747 containing an American ambassador and his staff. A recently signed Russo-American protocol calls for a bilateral rescue effort. But the protocol was signed with more than the usual cynicism, and the American team assigned to the job is the Pathfinders, a special operations group that was disgraced in its last outing. Colonel Ulm, the Pathfinder commander, smells a rat but is happy to work with his Russian oppo, the hard-as-nails Colonel Shabanov, if the supersecret operation means redemption for his men. Meanwhile, Tom Girling, science editor for a British newsweekly, has become exceedingly interested in the case. An old colleague in Cairo has uncovered a connection between the terrorists and the mob that stoned Girling's Egyptian wife to death in front of him several years earlier. Editorial treachery and the disappearance of the Cairene reporter bring Girling back to Egypt and his previous role as a crack investigative journalist. While the commandos train for their mission in the desert beyond the pyramids, Girling combs the markets and hashish dens of Cairo, looking for clues that will tie together the explosion, the kidnapings, his wife's death, and the pervasive influence of the supposedly benign Russians. Extremely entertaining. The two plots, rescuers and reporters, come together in the most astounding way. Wonderful Egyptian scenery.
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