Agents of Saddam Hussein nuke 40,000 Iraqi troops marching on Kuwaitand Baton Rouge, La.in an over-the-top thriller that exposes the US to more high-tech perils than ever endured by Pauline of a Saturday matinee. At the outset, an enraged Saddam vows the Americans will pay for an air raid that destroyed a secret cache of atomic weapons destined to decimate Israel. With a helping hand from renegade Russians and a sinister Ecuadorian arms dealer, Iraqi operatives not only smuggle three pieces of high-yield ordinance into the US in aid of obliterating New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hope, Ark., but also move additional contraband from Ukraine to Tikrit (Saddam's hometown) for use against the hated Zionists. While the CIA and Mossad are hot on the trail of the bootleg bombs, they can't stop either their delivery or the impromptu detonation of a device that levels the Bayou State's capital. Company menveteran Donald Bane in Eurasia and young Kevin Dalton on the home frontstrive valiantly, meanwhile, to locate and defuse the remaining nukes. Bane is on his own, but Dalton (a former naval aviator who led the strike that so incensed Saddam) has the assistance of Khalela Yishaid, a lethal Israeli lovely on loan from Mossad. Bane makes his way to Tikrit, where at the 11th hour he manages to set off a chain reaction that reduces it to radioactive rubble. Stateside, Kevin and Khalela counter every move made by the Islamic zealots and their villainous confederates, saving America's great cities from nuclear winter. At the close, moreover, Saddam's own officer corps bring about his own comeuppance. Pineiro (Ultimatum, 1994, not reviewed) offers some riveting set pieces, e.g., on aerial combat between supersonic jets, but his overly eventful, implausible narrative spins far out of control long before it ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.
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