A nicely put-together thriller from the talented Gould (Medusa's Gift, 1991, etc.), who can play all the pieces like another Bobby Fischer--but can't check to save her soul. The winding backcountry roads of Ireland, with their antiquated markers, hairpin turns, and narrow shoulders, are better suited for sightseeing than racing. This makes them the ideal setting for a rally, of course, since it ensures the international publicity that all the backers crave. And since the finish line is across the border that separates Northern Ireland from the Republic, it serves as a good photo-op for politicians who want to identify themselves with Peace and Harmony. There are a few problems, however. For one, Princess Victoria Anne, the blackest sheep of the Royal Family's tawny flock, has entered the race incognito. Also, bombs start going off along the course, and a high-society wedding is being held the day after the rally at Kyteler Manor, the estate of an Irish arms smuggler--while the Anglo-Irish Summit talks just happen to be under way a few miles down the road. It would be a good occasion for mischief if one were of a mind, and, this being Ireland, the occasion is not likely to be missed. One of the drivers, an American chap named Ludo, seems mischievous indeed. Something of a celebrity on the racing circuit, he is having an affair with his co-driver, the mother of his best friend Sam. Sam, meanwhile, is being held hostage by some nasty characters in New York. And all three of them have been invited to the wedding at Kyteler Manor, since the bridegroom was a roommate of Ludo and Sam's at Yale. There's a good deal more at stake than who will catch the garter: a terrorist plot, for instance, to devastate New York, London, and Washington, using smuggled plutonium. Will help arrive in time? Marvelously plotted for most of its length, with vivid, frightening characters, splendid dialogue, and excruciating suspense. But the story, alas, crashes and burns in a rushed, clumsy, unconvincing climax.