Malayan terrorists seize and hide a Soviet cruise ship and its cargo of rich Americans, among whom is the former secretary of state, in an ingenious thriller by the author of The Experiment (1980) and The Haunting of Suzanna Blackwell (1984). Arms for hostages is the deal proposed by Tengku Haji Azhar, the handsome, charismatic Malayan who--thanks to the encouragement of his smarter but uglier cousin and co-plotter--believes he is just the man to lead a Muslim political renaissance in southern Asia and Oceania. The cousins have recruited a gang of Malaccan pirates and, with very little trouble, seized The Black Sea, a posh new Russian liner, then hidden the ship in an uncharted jungle river just a day after its departure from Singapore. Tengku gets the attention of the Singaporean, American, and Soviet governments with the delivery of a recently detached head of a crew member and a shopping list of weapons the terrorists would like to have delivered in return for not detaching more. With a fresh Soviet or American head arriving every day in Singapore, the three governments feel a bit of pressure to do something. Working for the Americans are the very capable captain and crew of the U.S.S. Decatur, a frigate operating in the area, and Mr. Yee, a very cool and rather mysterious aide to the president of Singapore. Time is working against them--as are the hungry local crocodiles and the rising hysteria of the passengers. Fortunately for everybody, one of the ship's tour guides is Maggi Chancellor, a pretty American who speaks the terrorists' language and who has caught the eye of Tengku. Ms. Chancellor has no intention of spending her life in the jungle.... Great fun. Fresh gimmicks and scenery skillfully assembled in a very slick package. Never palls.