The reader almost despairs of a story getting under way in Forsyth's latest: the situation takes so long to set up, and is mired in such wearisome detail. Finally, after it has been made clear that both a renegade Soviet military group and a fanatical Texan oil baron plan to take over an oil-rich Middle Eastern state for their different twisted reasons, the action begins. The son of the American president (who is about to sign a major arms agreement with Gorbachev himself) is kidnapped, and, despite the best efforts of Quinn, the negotiator, is killed at the very moment of his ransoming. The president is stricken, a takeover of the U.S. government looms, and it looks as if the treaty is doomed. Now it is up to Quinn to find out who was behind the crime, and why. With a plucky and pretty female FBI agent, he scours obscure corners of northern Europe for the perpetrators--always to find them dead just as he arrives. In a cliffhanger of a conclusion, he brings the guilt home to Washington, the president perks up and the world is saved. As always, Forsyth is good at the details (you learn more about Dutch and Belgian road maps than you probably ever wanted to know), keeps a few surprises up his sleeve and writes action scenes more crisply, and with less gore, than Ludlum. But his characterization is flat, and much of The Negotiator is terribly familiar. By far the best parts are the negotiations for the ransoming of the president's son, which generate real tension. BOMC main selection. (May)
"Forsyth gives us all we ask for."--"Chicago Tribune," "Forsyth at the top of his game!"--Tom Clancy, author of "The Hunt For Red October," "A Blockbuster."--"New York Daily News," "A completely satisfying thriller. . . "The Negotiator" delivers. . . A string of unsettling climaxes."--"Newsweek," "From the Paperback edition."