The Zero Hour, by Joseph Finder

Cover ImageFinished 3-17-09, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 1996

“I assume you know who I am.”

Baumann shook his hand and nodded.  “Certainly, Mr. Dyson,” he said.  “I do know a bit about you.

“Glad to hear it.”

“I’ve recently had some spare time to do a little research.”

Dyson chortled, as if to share Baumann’s joke, but Baumann was not smiling.  “Do you know why you’re here?”  Dyson asked.

“No,” Baumann admitted.  “I know that I’m not sitting in Cell Block Ninteen in Pollsmoor Prison.  And I know that you made the arrangements for my jailbreak.  But to be entirely honest, I have no idea why.”

Chapter 8

The Prince of Darkness, aka Baumann, is a terrorist for hire and a fugitive American billionaire has just sprung him from a South African prison .  Mr. Dyson has lost his his family and the use of legs thanks to the U.S. government and he has hired Baumann to plant a bomb that will bring down Wall Street.  Baumann gets to work in making his way from Switzerland to the U.S. and finding all of the pieces to the dangerous and complex mission.

FBI Secial Agent Sarah Cahill finds herself involved in this plot because one of her informants has been murdered and she has asked all the right questions.  She is put in charge of a small task force given the large duty of figuring out not only who, but what is going on.  She also has to relocate to New York City with her eight year old son.

This is a fast-paced thriller and I had a hard time putting it down.  This is a good look at international terrorism and national security before 9-11.  There are many references to the first World Trade Center bombing and what happened in Oklahoma City.  So, the the book isn’t wrong, it’s just that the world, especially the US, has changed.

There are a few negatives.  One of the first chapters in the book is a pretty graphic one with a dominatrix and a submissive.  The excruciating detail was unnecessary, but fed into the very macho point of view of the book.  Sarah’s character was easy to root for, but she did something in the middle of the book that seemed so out of character that it was hard to understand her after that.  I was a little disappointed in the ending.  Baumann is the main character, Sarah is given equal time, but she is not nearly as interesting.  The end fizzles out because all the sudden it turns into Sarah’s story.

It does seem like a lot of complaints, but it was well-written and I was anxious to see how it would end, so it probably evens itself out.  I also think that men would rate this higher than women.