Set in the fall of 1988, this less than engaging thriller from Terpening (Tropic of Fear) opens dramatically. An unsuccessful jewelry robbery in Rome claims the life of one of the two teenage daughters of Richard Donovan, an American art history professor. When kidnappers seize Donovan's surviving child, Claudia, she becomes a pawn in a mega-terrorist scheme to kill Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, the U.S. president, who appears to be Ronald Reagan, and the Italian premier. Donovan must scramble to rescue his child before the bad guys can achieve their evil aims. The plot's engine-to get the terrorists' choice for the U.S. president's successor elected from a sympathy vote-is far-fetched, and the melding of historical figures with fictitious political developments encourages, rather than dispels, disbelief.