THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

Gerald Seymour, Author . Overlook $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-58567-634-7

The plot of Seymour's skilled thriller could be a contemporary headline—"Al Qaeda Terrorist Escapes; Allies Pursue Through Desert"—but it wouldn't communicate the depth and density of the novel, which gets so deep under the skin of its characters that it's more impressive for its portraits of people caught in thorny situations than it is for its race-against-the-clock suspense story. The narrative begins with a man named Caleb, aka Abu Khaleb, fleeing to the mountains of Afghanistan. Captured by American soldiers, he passes himself off as a taxi driver pining to get back to his family. Released after nearly two years at Guantánamo, this so-called "peasant from up-country" escapes from the soldiers taking him back to Kabul. Gradually, Seymour reveals the truth: this everyman is a terrorist mastermind, and the family he seeks to return to is his al-Qaeda cell, which plans to use him as the triggerman for a dirty bomb targeted for a major city. Pursuing this British-born terrorist with his "shitty little heart filled with hate" are crackerjack American pilots of unmanned planes, Marty and Lizzie-Jo, as well as British spook Eddie Wroughton, who's squeezing a spineless doctor for info, among others. Although his plot simmers more than boils, Seymour (The Untouchable ; Killing Ground ; etc.) offers an engrossing and thought-provoking look at an all-too-possible crisis. Agent, Sterling Lord Literistic. 75,000 first printing; $75,000 marketing budget. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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FORMATS
Hardcover - 469 pages - 978-0-593-05258-7
Paperback - 469 pages - 978-0-593-05259-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 543 pages - 978-0-552-15173-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7861-3875-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4551-0580-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-3508-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-7843-8
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-8058-5
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-58567-752-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-84505-163-1
Hardcover - 430 pages - 978-1-4447-6043-9
Hardcover - 15 pages - 978-1-84632-667-7
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4447-6044-6
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