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A first-novel of international intrigue, this one involving a Trident missile in the hands of terrorists and a Soviet major who is ordered to track it down. Why a Soviet search for a stolen American missile? Her superiors tell Major Annya Lermotova--daughter of a legendary spy and a famous actress--that they're sending her back to Washington, where she'd done undercover work two years before, because they're anxious to clear their country of complicity in the theft of the missile from E1 Salvador. The Americans, who do indeed suspect Russian involvement, get onto Annya immediately--but they're hampered by high-level infighting between FBI man David Norgard, Admiral James Boyston, and the office of a weak Vice President elevated to the Presidency and eager to appear tough and electable. When President Haverman orders new defensive measures against the possibility of terrorist attack, the Soviets turn up the heat by positioning their subs right off the American coast, threatening a pre-emptive first strike. As the Americans close in on her, Annya, ignoring her orders and following her own hunches, closes in on the Trident--which turns out to be in the hands of the Libyans, who plan to drop it on Tel Aviv while the American and Saudi Arabian heads of state are there signing a Saudi-lsraeli treaty. But Annya's superior Orlanov is playing an even deeper game: he's backing the Libyans, expecting to step into a shell-shocked Arabia and take control of its oil reserves while throwing Annya, now involved with John Lambrikos, whose shipping company may be in league with Qaddafi, to the Americans to keep them off his scent--or, if that doesn't work, having her killed himself. Too many locations, counterthreats, faceless minor characters, and paragraphs of technical detail keep this from gathering much momentum; Owen's deft plotting evokes admiration but not much engagement.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1989
Publisher: Walker