British agent Sean Dillon, late of the IRA, is back in another heart-stopping adventure by veteran suspense writer Jack Higgins, who starts his newest with a dry recitation of the background and heritage of the villains of this piece (the half-British, half-Arab Rashid family) and then rockets them into action. The three brothers and their alluringly beautiful sister Kate aren't happy when Russian and American interests start poaching on the patch of oil-rich desert sand they consider part of the family business. Political assassination figures heavily in the Rashids' plans for revenge. Enlisting the aid of Irish terrorist Aiden Bell and his cronies, they plot the murder of the American president, and when that fails, the Russian prime minister. But Dillon and his spymaster, Brigadier General Ferguson, thwart their plans at every turn, and as the Rashid men are picked off, one by one, the stakes keep getting raised. The final showdown, between Sean and Kate, ends in the kind of draw that, combined with the oft-repeated Rashid family motto ("I always return"), presages a sequel to this brilliantly paced thriller.
Sean Dillon is a soldier's soldier, whom Higgins invests with dignity as well as derring-do; he gets more complex and interesting with every outing. Higgins has penned over 30 novels, many featuring other protagonists, but none of them has Dillon's staying power. If you've never met Sean Dillon, this is a good place to start. There are plenty of books featuring him in Higgins's extensive backlist, and by the time you've worked your way through them, you'll be eagerly anticipating the next one. --Jane Adams