Big Herbie Kruger, the lovable, legendary SIS interrogator who's Gardner's favorite character, just can't stay retired. Here, he comes back for another curtain call when a retired agency confessor, his old friend Gus Keene, is killed by a car bomb. Keene, dubbed the Confessor of Confessors because of his skill in ferreting out secrets from his own people, was in the middle of writing a volume of memoirs that obviously gave offense to somebody. So it's no surprise when Herbie and Chief Inspector Rebecca Olesker link the explosion to an unholy alliance between a ring of Iraqi terrorists calling themselves Intiqam (Vengeance) and an equally rabid IRA splinter group. But Intiqam's casual betrayal of IRA bomber Declan Norton to the Brits raises some puzzling questions. What exactly is the relation between the two groups'? What's the dire threat behind Intiqam's latest operation, Magic Lightning? And why does Magic Lightning call for the assassination of SIS stalwarts Gus Keene, Archie Blount-Wilson, Tony Worboys, and Herbie Kruger? As the clock ticks down on Magic Lightning -- fueled by a state-of-the-art killing device -- Herbie discovers that Gus, an amateur magician who dazzled the pros, had been running an Intiqam agent code-named Jasmine in Iraq for years, and had turned the leader of Intiqam's London cell -- all without telling his masters in Whitehall. Just how much did he know about the doomsday scenario Intiqam has planned to ignite at the World Magic Summit in Washington -- and whose side was he really on after all? Though Gardner bills his big, ordinary intriguer as the second installment in "The Last Kruger Trilogy," it has less in common with the overstuffed epic Maestro (1993) than with Gardner's James Bond yarns. Next time, expect Herbie to foil terrorists again, find more moles and true love, and die.