cover image Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves

Jeffrey Archer. HarperCollins Publishers, $23 (381pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017945-8

Newly minted CIA and Mossad agents work to undo damage wrought by a Mafia/Iraqi conspiracy in English author Archer's ( As the Crow Flies ; Kane and Abel ) witty, action-filled--if improbable--thriller. Some readers, we suppose, might find quite plausible the idea that the mob has arranged for a ringer to impersonate President Clinton during his first months in office. But here the actor who plays Clinton assumes the role only long enough to swipe the Declaration of Independence. The chase is on as mobsters spirit the manuscript-turned-macguffin off to Iraq, where Saddam has plans to barbeque it for the Fourth of July, live on CNN. Meanwhile, Yale Law professor Scott Bradley goes undercover for the CIA, tracking lovely young Mossad operative Hannah Kopec, likewise on assignment in Paris. It's only a matter of time before the two agents are caught up in each other's arms and, of course, in the race to recapture the Declaration. Beyond the thrills and surprises that Archer's masterful narrative provides, readers will remain aware of the extreme unlikelihood that a scam such as Saddam's could succeed, and that two such neophytes would be thrown in to stop it. This deficit in verisimilitude doesn't detract too much from the novel's entertainment value, however, and some will be amused that Archer himself good-naturedly joins in the criticism by ironically making the accuracy of the spelling of ``Brittish'' (sic) in the Declaration and its copies central to his plot. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (July)