cover image Countdown


David Hagberg. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (474pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93212-1

In this follow-up to Without Honor, Hagberg reintroduces CIA assassin Kirk McGarvey to unravel a complex puzzle that begins with Soviet agents infiltrating a nuclear center in Israel and hijacking a Pershing missile in Germany. KGB chief Valentin Baranov and his bloodthirsty field man Arkady Kurshin plan to reactivate the Cold War by destroying Israel's nuclear capacity and bringing down Gorbachev. McGarvey's heroics--ranging from Washington to Berlin--foil the scheme. Hagburg, an experienced adventure novelist, borrows from the best: his characters are reminiscent of Ian Fleming; his atmosphere of betrayal and disillusion owes much to John le Carre; and his novel's most exciting episode involves a submarine subplot worthy of Tom Clancy. Though Countdown offers few surprises, it is also a well-crafted secret-agent thriller that will not disappoint fans of the genre. (June)