First-novelist Weber writes of post-Gorby Soviet hard-liners who plan a sneak nuclear attack on the US--and bring the world to the brink of all-out war. Glasnost ends for the USSR when a Libyan armed with a ground-to-air missile imposes fatal perestroika on the General Secretary's airplane. The assassin is in the pay of a cabal of Brezhnevite cold warriors who long for the good old days of international tensions and intrigue. Having disposed of the traitorous Gorbachev, the plotters step in to seize control of the Politburo and the military machinery and begin a campaign of harassment against the US. Soviet jets begin to test the limits of American naval air defense, and Soviet subs nip at the heels of American warships. The strategy is to provoke the Americans to go to a state of maximum readiness for war--and then lull them into backing off just before the Soviets launch a surprise attack. But the Americans have planted a spy in the kitchen of the new Soviet dictator. With the help of an endlessly resourceful CIA agent, the kitchen spy escapes the Kremlin and heads for the Baltic coast, fighting off platoons of KGB agents at every turn, in order to get word of the sneak attack to the Americans before it's too late. As the spies slog through the snow, the American military machine gears up and prepares for the worst. Respectable tension and fast action are dragged down by those twin curses of the military thriller--leaden dialogue and wooden characters: ""'Colonel, I'd like to arrive. . .ahead of our schedule. Think we can do that?' 'Yes, sir. No problem. We'll put another man on the coal shovel.' The President chuckled, thinking about the dry sense of humor. . .the commander of Air Force One continually displayed.