COUNTDOWN by David Hagberg


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Hagberg (Heartland, Heroes, Without Honor), who also writes as Sean Flannery (The Kremlin Conspiracy, The Zebra Network, Crossed Swords), turns out another very clever thriller, this time about Soviet efforts to lay waste to Israel's cache of nuclear weapons. Hagberg neatly finesses the Pax Gorbachevana with a renegade spymaster who seems to have it in for Israel in the worst way. Comrade Baranov inserts a fake Israeli soldier into what is supposed to be just a nuclear-reactor site. The young spy scrabbles down a 300-foot air vent to break into Israel's supersecret store of nuclear warheads--where he stumbles on the corpse of yet another spy who has accidentally poisoned himself with a massive dose of radiation. The Soviet spy himself lives only long enough to phone home a work report before he is shot by security forces, but the damage is done. Baranov knows enough to start a series of operations to nuke the nukes, rendering the site uninhabitable, the weapons unusable, and Zion untenable. When the Americans get wind of the trouble, which the Israelis are trying to keep quiet, they activate their very, very best agent, a Mr. Kirk McGarvey, who irritates Baranov by pulling the plug on all his schemes at the last possible second. Even Baranov's own very, very best agent is not quite a match for McGarvey. Baranov's best bet: snatching the lovely physicist who spotted the Israeli cache. She and McGarvey find each other most attractive. . . Much better-than-average thriller. Sophisticated characters and a breakneck pace.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's