Despite having sworn off novel-writing, Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War) returns with an enormous plot that builds unfalteringly, a staggeringly well-detailed international thriller that shows him in blazing top form. It's the early 1980s, and Drach, a Ukrainian fanatic transplanted to England, is determined to bring down the hated Russian government: he and some Jewish-Ukrainians rob a British bank to finance themselves, they steal first-class weapons from a rifle shop, and they then successfully lure KGB Ivanenko to death in Kiev. But, though Drach gets home free, his two Jewish pals are captured when they hijack an Aeroflot--and eventually Drach will get a new team together and hijack a million-ton super-tanker in the North Sea, threatening to blow it up unless his pals are released. Meanwhile, however, President Rudin of Russia has other, even bigger problems: famine--and an upstart Soviet faction that demands an invasion of well-fed Western Europe; Rudin needs 50 million tons of U.S. wheat to feed his angry people and avoid war, but U.S. President Matthews is holding off until Rudin agrees to SALT IV talks and signs a tough disarmament treaty. Who can save the day--who can prevent both the North Sea blaze and World War III? Enter Adam Munro, a top English spy in Moscow with his own personal international crisis: an old Russian flame who wants to defect. And it's Adam who finally comes up with a way out of the multiple disaster dilemmas--the devil's alternative. But will Presidents Matthews and Rudin agree to it? . . . All these separate strands are commonplace enough, but Forsyth braids them expertly--with a graphic sense of place and scene-setting that plunges you into the corridors of power. So, even though the complexity makes this not quite the unputdownable single-focus grabber that the Jackal was, it's the best of its kind--a jigsaw-puzzled page-turner with class.