THE FIFTH INTERNATIONALE

Jack King, Author . Leisure $6.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5337-4

King, a former courier of top-secret information, delivers a tightly wound debut thriller centered around a complex and sometimes cloudy conspiracy theory. While working as the deputy legal attaché for the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, down-to-earth FBI agent Stan Penskie witnesses the assassination of his sister's fiancé, a CIA agent who'd posited a shocking conspiracy theory. The event throws Stan's life into a tailspin and leads him on a frenzied chase after a group called the Fifth Internationale, "an elusive organization of unthinkable resources and proportions" that may be bent on destabilizing world power structures and financial markets. Through his quest, Stan meets people from various government agencies, but he has no idea who to trust or even where his investigation is leading. Readers will empathize with Stan's bewilderment as they try to untangle the story's many threads—a task that will challenge even the most diligent reader. Intelligent dialogue, relentless pacing and well-rounded characters (including a hauntingly familiar American president) compensate somewhat for the byzantine plotting, but the story's primary saving grace is its deft evocation of the Polish culture and cityscape. (Apr. 6)

Reviewed on: 03/22/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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