Ludlum's 14th suspense caper has the earmarks of all his others: the mysterious cabal involved in global conspiracy; the surges of sudden violence; the careful veneer of local color to provide authenticity; and the rather graceless prose punctuated with breathless italicizing to keep the suspense going. The protagonist this time is Congressman Evan Kendrick, who secretly goes to Oman to rescue a large group of Americans held hostage there. Disguised as a terrorist and aided by the young sultan and a beautiful American-Arab agent, Kendrick succeeds so well that his anonymity is betrayed, and he becomes an instant hero back home, as well as a reluctant presidential candidate. After his cover is blown, however, he also becomes the target for terrorist assassination. Behind all the evildoing is a cabal headed by a man who calls himself the Mahdi, its purpose to acquire the power that money brings by selling arms to religious fanatics. And on this side of the ocean there are other secret forces at work, with awesome power at their command. While violence piles on violence, Ludlum does some high-flown moralizing. The story's underlying philosophy can be found, or at least sought, in the characteristically fuzzy statement: "The arrogance of blind belief led all the mendacities of human thought."