A deeply involving cat-and-mouse WW II thriller that expertly mixes sentiment and suspense and goes far to explain why Durand, though seldom published here (The Angkor Massacre, 1983), is one of Europe's most popular authors. At the center of this intricately plotted novel--a #1 best-seller in France--stand three unusually strong characters: Thomas von Gall, 11-year-old genius with the key to a fortune locked away in his brain; Gregor Laemmle, philosopher/pederast who hunts Thomas across Western Europe; and wealthy American David Quartermain, the Daddy of the title who comes to Thomas' rescue. The story opens at full drive, with Thomas fleeing his home in southern France seconds ahead of Laemmle and his Nazi cohorts, who aim to kidnap the boy to lure his mother, Maria, out of hiding--for only she, they mistakenly think, knows where the 724 million marks are that Thomas' granddad secreted out of Germany and that the Reich desperately wants. After a harrowing chase, Laemmle captures Thomas, who matches wits with his captor in ironic games of chess and life-and-death; meanwhile, Maria has written to Quartermain with the stunning news that he, her long-ago lover, is the boy's father: will he help? Quartermain rushes to France just in time to witness, along with Thomas, the bumbling murder by the Nazis of Maria, out of hiding to trade her life for her son's. Quartermain grabs the boy and runs; on the lam, father and son painfully, slowly bond even as another, darker bond grows: that between Thomas and laemmle, alternately predator and prey in a twisting, violent hunt that ends with Quartermain making a daring foray into Germany while Thomas and Laemmle endure a final showdown on the Swiss-German border at dawn. Although marred by heavy coincidence and Francoisms--to Durand, Germans are villains, Frenchmen heroes, and Americans cowboys--this emotional, exciting, puzzle-rich read bears comparison to classic WW II thrillers like Day of the Jackal and The Eagle Has Landed and may wind up climbing our best-seller lists as well.