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Ken Follett. Viking, $36 (816p) ISBN 978-0-593-30001-5

In this terrific international thriller from MWA Grand Master Follett (Eye of the Needle), President Pauline Green, a moderate Republican who’s up for reelection, must contend for the nomination with far-right Sen. James Moore, whose macho talk appeals to many Republican voters. On the foreign policy front, Green wants to punish the Chinese for selling arms to terrorists, so she proposes a resolution against them in the United Nations. This is the first move in a political chess game between China and the U.S. that could lead to all-out war. At home, Green and her husband are having difficulties with their bright 14-year-old daughter, who’s being disruptive in school. Meanwhile, in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, CIA officer Tamara Levit is running Abdul John Haddad, a 25-year-old cigarette vendor, as a spy on the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. These are just a few of the plotlines Follett lays out in detail and then slowly weaves together as the stakes and the suspense steadily rise. By the final pages all is made clear, and the shocked reader realizes that the story hasn’t ended, it’s just beginning. This is a powerful, commanding performance from one of the top writers in the genre. (Nov.)