Forsyth's first novel in five years, and while it doesn't quite match the white-knuckle tensions of The Day of the Jackal or the baroque plottings of The Devil's Alternative, this big tale of global Realpolitik balancing on the kidnap of a US President's son is still a standout thriller--sophisticated, stingingly suspenseful, and grounded in the author's trademarked attention to authentic detail. As usual, Forsyth builds slowly, seeding multiple plot lines that will eventually detonate the main action. It's 1990, and, independently, right-wing cabals in both the US and Russia are running scared on two counts: with Soviet and US oil reserves near zero, the Arabs will soon own the world economy; and, with a giant arms-reduction treaty okayed by Gorbachev and American President John Cormack, each nation's defense industry is about to go belly-up. The solution? The two cabals conspire to destroy the treaty and then, acting alone, to go after oil by invading Iran (the Russians) and installing a puppet regime in Saudi Arabia (the Americans). How? By emotionally breaking Cormack--and American-Soviet ties--by kidnapping his young son, Simon, a student at Oxford, and then letting slip that the snatch was a Soviet job. Enter Forsyth's lone-wolf hero, veteran hostage negotiator Quinn, drawn out of retirement. Quinn's ballet of wits with the thuggish kidnappers forms the intricate puzzle/centerpiece of the novel's first half; when all of Quinn's efforts go terribly awry, however, Forsyth switches from intellectual to visceral satisfactions as the negotiator becomes the vengeful hunter (aided by a sexy FBI agent) to track down the kidnappers and their bosses across Europe and America--even as President Cormack crumbles and international chaos looms. No one does it better. A crackling good read that's sure to soar up the best-seller lists.