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Writing under the pseudonym Sam Bourne, British journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland, author of The Righteous Men and The Last Testament, is now out with his third thriller, The Final Reckoning. Like its predecessors, this new book takes the reader on a roller coaster of a ride over twisting conspiracies and treacherous plots, and just when you think you've got it all figured out, it turns our there's another 90 foot drop around the next turn. Bourne is the kind of writer who likes to offer you the chair and then pull it out from behind as you start to sit down. So don't think you know what's going on, because you may have part of the story, but whatever you've got is likely to be a part only.
Set in New York and London, The Final Reckoning begins when a suspected terrorist is shot by a guard at the United Nations Building in response to an alert from the New York City terrorism unit. When it turns out that the terrorist is an elderly man in his seventies who seems to be a tourist from London, U.N. authorities, certain that they have made a colossal blunder and worried about blowback, call on an ex-employee to deal with the victim's family and keep publicity damage to a minimum.
Tom Byrne, once a naive young lawyer working idealistically for the U.N. in areas where ethnic fighting had degenerated into atrocity mass extermination, and recognizing that justice for victims and punishment for the criminals was politically unlikely, has left the organization shorn of his illusions. Now much older and wiser, wiser to the point of cynicism, he is working a private practice in New York, dating models and taking on any client who has the money to make it worth his while. His current client, for example, is a mob family using his services to broker a deal in Dubai.
Tom is awakened on the morning of the shooting by a phone call from his old boss and good friend at the UN asking for his help, first keeping an eye on whatever investigation the NYPD is doing and then getting in touch with the victim's family. Feeling some obligation to the man, Byrne agrees and his ride and that of the reader begins. It takes him to London where he meets the old man's daughter, a doctor — an attractive doctor, and it is almost love at first sight. Very soon he discovers that the innocent elderly man, Gershon Merton, may have been elderly, but he may not have been all that innocent.