, a spell-binding novel by master spy craftsman Frederick Forsythe is set near the end of the Cold War as the Presidents of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. pledge to end their hostility and usher an era of peace. However, a group of right-wing extremists, fearful of losing billions in the lucrative defense industry, hatches a plot to discredit the Soviet Union. As part of this scheme, the son of the U.S. President is kidnapped while studying in England. The CIA sends a negotiator, Quinn, a former agent and Vietnam veteran to deal with the kidnappers. Vaguely suspicious because of his reputation as a maverick, the CIA assigns Sam, a special agent, to spy on him, not expecting that the female operative and Quinn would fall for each other. Quinn and Sam are at first unaware that their every move is being tracked by an insider with a secret link to the plotters. Suspecting that others are involved in the kidnapping, Quinn absconds with the diamonds intended for ransom and arranges a rendezvous with the kidnappers led by Zack. He is able to obtain the boy’s release. But before he is reunited with his father, the boy is killed by a bomb he was wearing in his belt, detonated from a distance.
The experts trace the explosive used to the doorstep of the Soviet Union, thus bringing the world to the brink of another Cold War. The Soviet premier assigns someone to find out what was happening. Blamed for the fiasco, Quinn embarks on a hunt for the killers across Europe, taking Sam with him. But everywhere they go they find the dead bodies of the kidnappers – all former mercenaries. Somebody was following their every move, wasting the kidnappers before they get to them. Meanwhile, the U.S. President, personally crushed by the death of his son, has faded from the limelight, giving way to the more hawkish leaders of the nation. The plotters are succeeding in their plan to bring back the days of gargantuan budget spending. Quinn finally traces the mastermind of the plot, assisted by a crack agent of the Soviet Union. The plotters are apprehended and the U.S. President, who has abandoned his plan to resign, leads the country back on the way to peace.