The President's illegitimate daughter is kidnapped by terrorists who haven't reckoned with the might of the Higgins regulars. Not many people know this, but back when Jake Cazalet was a lieutenant in Vietnam, he had a one-night affair with a French countess he'd just rescued that led to many warm memories and one lissome daughter, Marie de Brissac. Now an Israeli terrorist calling himself Judas Maccabeus has snatched her from a scenic Corfu villa to force her father to execute Nemesis, a series of surgical nuclear airstrikes that'll reduce Iran, Iraq, and Syria to rubble. In order to carry his demands to President Cazalet, Judas decides he needs the services of former IRA stalwart Scan Dillon. But using Dillon as a lowly errand boy (intending to execute him as soon as he's met with Cazalet) is one big mistake, since it gets Dillon's current boss, Brigadier Charles Ferguson, and his well-armed minions into the act. As Maccabeus's Stealth network of low-level moles, who've infiltrated all the official computer systems the President could use to get information, go up against the wiles of Dillon, Ferguson, and their friends-and-relations, Maccabeus heats up the brew by kidnapping Ferguson's assistant, Chief Inspector Hannah Bernstein, too. But it doesn't matter, because all the characters are too blank to be worth caring about: Newcomers like Cazalet and watercolorist Marie are such ciphers that they make Dillon, who's about as personable as the Energizer Bunny, look like Hamlet. What's left is a bevy of hijackings, druggings via hypos and coffee cups, caches of Semtex and Uzis, more handcuffs than at an S/M convention, and numberless dark threats with silenced pistols (in lieu of ""Zounds! After them!"" characters mutter, ""No one will hear a thing""). Higgins's 27th (Drink with the Devil, 1996, etc.), negligible as melodrama, shows the old pro giving Tom Clancy a run for his money as the most fetishistic of contemporary thriller writers.