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by Glenn Meade

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20201-6
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

After two successful previous outings (Brandenburg, 1997; Snow Wolf, 1996), Meade slumps here—with a monster-sized thriller about a monstrous attempt to assassinate Roosevelt and Churchill during WWII. Life is pleasant on an easygoing archeological dig in Egypt, circa 1939. To three young friends, slated for central roles when the drama unfolds, war and its exigencies seem far away. Their most pressing concern is whether Rachel likes Jack or Harry best. Fast- forward four years. Now Jack, a major, is a master intelligence agent in the German army; Colonel Harry does the same work for the Allies; and Rachel, her friends believe, is dead, drowned at sea with her father. Not so, Jack learns: half-Jewish Rachel is in a concentration camp, from which she’s about to be released. Why? So that she can be part of Hitler’s assassination dream team. The club over Rachel’s head is the threatened extinction of her family. The carrot held before Jack is preferential treatment for his young son, hospitalized with severe burns. Moreover, Jack has grown to hate Roosevelt, blaming him for the Berlin bombings that resulted in the death of Jack’s revered father. The dream team develops some internal problems—two of the four are passionate enemies—but at length takes off for Egypt, its members posing as archeologists. It’s in Cairo that Roosevelt is to meet Churchill and (Hitler hopes) a dismal fate. There’s a mad chase across the desert, several brutal beatings, gore-drenched killings, and nonstop acts of selfless courage from the three friends. Because, yes, they do meet again, in Sakkara, where it all started, a confrontation that generates some not-very-surprising revelations. A desperately churning plot seldom compensates for a cast of stick-figures speaking wooden dialogue.