After the hurtling success of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, book and film, there's readymade interest in a still more outrageous heist even if it's not as good, certainly not after you've established the floor plan. What's up for grabs? No less than the remains of the Unknown Soldier of WW II from Arlington Cemetery to be bartered (the talisman of the title) for the release of one Francis Rowan, a Berrigan type and the ""last casualty of the ugly war."" The architect of this notion leaves permanently from a high window but the plan is processed, strangely enough, by a much older man, Booth, a patriot of another generation and another war who's lost faith. There are about four others with him--Doc, a nerveless hustler; Asbury, a flaky killer; Dover, the driver of the army van they first use to clear the cemetery custodians (one killed, others drugged), and Raphael whose wife is forced to betray them to the rabid FBI man who puts the cordon around their hideout. This will probably do reasonably well even if the idea really doesn't go the distance (400 pages) however fast it travels. Perhaps because you're in the company of no one you could possibly like.