cover image The President's Daughter

The President's Daughter

Jack Higgins. Putnam, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14239-0

Pint-sized ex-IRA and ex-PLO operative Sean Dillon (Drink with the Devil, etc.), now with British Intelligence, finds himself working on behalf of the U.S. president in Higgins's disappointing latest. Dillon, Brigadier Charles Ferguson and Chief Inspector Hannah Bernstein are on the track of a Jewish extremist who calls himself Judas Maccabeus and is pressing President Jake Cazalet to sign off on a thorough bombing attack on Iraq, Iran and Syria. If Cazalet doesn't authorize the strikes, Judas will kill Contesse Marie de Brissac, Cazalet's illegitimate daughter, who was conceived in 1969 in Vietnam when Cazalet, then a Special Forces lieutenant, bedded Marie's mother. There are jaunts around the Mediterranean, with lots of kidnappings (and some subsequent releases), until Dillon leads a tiny band against Judas's clifftop villa on Corfu for an obligatory and rather perfunctory final shoot-out. Higgins comes up with an appealing new good guy in the person of Blake Johnson, a White House security miracle-worker, but this novel doesn't approach his action-packed par. Dillon and company spend as much time planning against Judas (and missing an obvious clue to his identity) as they do acting on their plans. Meanwhile, the badinage between Dillon and Bernstein adds more cuteness than wit. At novel's end, Dillon gets to visit the White House--but not to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom. Maybe British Intelligence should give him a raise; certainly, Higgins should give him a better showcase next time out. BOMC main selection. (May)