A feisty schoolteacher and a lively eight-year-old team up in this high-tech tale that works in spite of its techie pretensions. T.C., a.k.a. Teresa Contreras Rainey, a schoolteacher vacationing in Mexico, has a funny thing happen to her on the way to a day of scuba-diving. She bumps into a kidnapping--and manages to thwart it. Soon it turns out that the intended victim, young Al Townsend, is no ordinary boy. Al, a.k.a. Talal, is heir to the throne of a Middle Eastern kingdom, a place from which his American mother has removed him. The ruler, his father, wants him back big time. The would-be kidnappers are not your garden-variety, down-and-dirty thugs--they're former CIA guys available for hire--rent-a-spooks--whose mission could not be simpler: grab the kid, kill whoever gets in the way. Though T.C. understands that this means her, the realization comes too late, as a ferocious maternal bonding has already taken place, the kind that forecloses all but one option: keep Al close; stand in for his dead mom against all threats to the boy, who soon comes to be a surrogate for the son lost to T.C. in an auto accident some years back. From Mexico to New Mexico, they fly in tandem, a hairsbreadth ahead of pursuit. T.C. collects some allies, among them Ross Downing, a resourceful government counter-spook. But the mercenaries descend in force, capture Al, and hie him off to their hideaway. Misnamed Saddletramp Ranch, it's a hedonistic haven for diplomats with checkered pasts. There--in a flurry of technological cut and thrust--all is finally and happily resolved. The obligatory high-tech seems forced--supplied because that's what's called for in an Ing novel (Flying to Pieces, 1997, etc.). It's the no-tech that sustains interest--T.C., Al, and a thoroughly likable supporting cast.