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A posthumous novel, first published in 1978 in Britain, that has little to offer beyond its complex plot, which, unfortunately, proves too incredible to be satisfying. (Niesewand also wrote The Word of a Gentleman, A Member of the Club, Fallback, and Scimitar.) Having successfully completed the kidnapping for ransom of a Saudi Arabian prince, three Palestinian terrorists go to England to carry out their next, unspecified operation. But while the prince is still their captive, their leader, Ziad, alludes vaguely to the upcoming operation, and the information passes from the Saudis to the CIA and thence to New Scotland Yard. The police, with little information to go on, suspect that the terrorists plan two bombings to coincide with the opening of Middle East peace talks. But the terrorists' plans, as they begin to lay them, seem to show that the police are wildly off the mark. Two questions--whether the police will catch on, and precisely what the terrorists, who have secrets even from each other, are planning--are meant to give the book its suspense. Characterization is perfunctory. The terrorists, for instance, have no pasts; each is defined solely by his present actions, and a reader distinguishes them more by what each is assigned to do than by the force of their personalities. Niesewand attempts to explain only Ziad's motivation, but even this seems insufficient to explain his savagery. Though the writing is merely serviceable, the plot is more skillful and the book moves briskly--and yet the reader simply doesn't believe some of what he reads. One example, and not the most serious: Would Ziad, who warns his comrades repeatedly that their mission requires extreme caution, really have divulged any of what he planned to the Saudis? All in all: readable, but no better.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1985
Publisher: Stein & Day