BREATHLESS TO CASABLANCA

James Douglas, Author, Tracey J. Evans, Translator, Rick Osborne, Translator , trans. from the German by James Douglas, Tracey J. Evans and Rick Osborne. Welcome Rain $15 (448p) ISBN 978-1-56649-260-7

First published in Germany in September 2000, this spy thriller by Swiss author Douglas (Zero Philadelphia) made headlines for its eerily prescient premise, which includes the attempted terrorist destruction of a U.S. aircraft carrier and the bombing of a New York City office building. An al Qaida–affiliated terrorist mastermind, Yussef bin Golem, wants to sink the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is returning home from the Ionian Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. He diverts U.S. attention with the bombing of a covert CIA communications center in Manhattan. Then, moving his base to the Shiraz, a converted supertanker, he heads for Gibraltar, setting in motion a plot to blackmail Nadine Moran, brilliant French cryptologist developing secret codes for the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, Swiss novelist Stan Polinsky, under suspicion for his uncle's murder, is pondering the uncle's inscrutable deathbed whispers of "Nadine" and the contents of his mysterious red file. The desperate Moran intercepts Polinsky in Zurich and enlists his aid. But which side is she working for? Burdened with superfluous characters, plot twists and a comic book showdown between Polinsky and bin Golem, the novel is also sidetracked by the hijacking of a plane full of high-level American tourists. In spite of these flaws, the thriller is Douglas's strongest work thus far. Though he doesn't yet rank with genre masters, readers will no doubt marvel at Douglas's prophetic vision. (Feb.)

Forecast:According to promotional materials, the FBI contacted Douglas several days after September 11, intrigued by his premise that a bin Laden–like terrorist might be directing his operations from a ship at sea. The curious backstory and timely material may give sales a boost.

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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