THE LIONS OF LUCERNE
He's fearless. He's tireless. If you get him angry, as does the chief of staff of the vice-president of the United States, he'll pop you with an uppercut. He's Secret Service Agent Scot Harvath, the hero of Thor's rough-and-ready debut. As the action opens on the ski slopes outside Park City, Utah, the 20-something Harvath has screwed up. Under his watch, terrorists not only kill 30 agents but kidnap the president midway down his final run of the day. When the Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA and a suspiciously inept and indecisive vice-president wring their hands, the disgraced Harvath picks up the few scant clues left behind and launches a one-man search-and-rescue mission. The terrorists publicly demand $500 million and privately insist that an anti–fossil fuel proposal in Congress be killed. When those demands aren't immediately met, one of the president's fingers arrives at the White House. By this time, Harvath is on his way to Switzerland, where he's gotten word of a mysterious cell of mercenaries named the Lions of Lucerne. With unflinching determination and an uncanny ability to escape danger and assassination, the young buck pieces together the plot and girds himself for a showdown at the terrorists' secret hideaway inside the frozen exterior of Mt. Pilatus. Thor, host of the PBS television series Traveling Lite, shows a gift for dramatic storytelling. The momentum of the plot alone may satisfy some readers. Yet it's hard to get past the novel's many graceless shortcomings—clichéd language (time passes "at a snail's pace," old habits "die hard"), cartoonish scenes and a protagonist whose superhero character desperately needs fleshing out. Agent, Heide Lange of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.(Jan.)
Forecast:Pocket is launching this pumped-up debut with billboard advertising in Times Square and an eight-city author tour. Swiss mercenaries may seem tame villains in times like these, but this is adequate escapist fare for readers seeking a quick action fix.