cover image A Season in Hell

A Season in Hell

Jack Higgins. Simon & Schuster, $18.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-63691-3

Sean Egan is Irish, well-educated and cynical, trained by the British as a commando who can shoot bad guys between the eyes without blinking. Sarah Talbot is a powerful Wall Street lawyer and a wealthy socialite. This unlikely duo join forces to avenge the killings of Sean's adoptive sister and Sarah's son, both murdered by a ghoulish heroin smuggling ring. They travel throughout Europe, uncovering clues just before each source is murdered before their eyes, followed by the drug ring's cool assassin, Jago. Though it's not unusual to find a political adventure novel lacking in original dialogue or emotional depth, it is surprising to see the plot fall quickly into such predictable contrivances. If Sean straps on an ankle holster at a certain point in the narrative, for example, he will certainly be frisked just a few pages later. The novel has no romance, no sex, and too few twists. The most interesting character, Jago, never lives up to his early promise as the cold-blooded killer with a chilling respect and fondness for Sarah. Higgins builds suspense only to let it dissipate at the last moment, and the ending, though a surprise, is arbitrary and unrewarding. The novel should, nevertheless, eventually find a comfortable niche in the paperback racks. (Jan.)