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CODE TO ZERO


by Ken Follett

Dutton Publishing, 2000 (356 pages) $26.96
Also available on unabridged audio tape from Penguin, 10 hours, $39.95
ISBN: 0-525-94563-6

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

Ken Follett is undoubtedly one of the grandmasters of the modern thriller. Follett's noted most for such thrillers as THE DAY OF THE JACKAL and EYE OF THE NEEDLE. Follett's latest novel, CODE TO ZERO, is set at the height of the Cold War. Throughout the book, Follett captures the air of post World War II era in which nuclear Armageddon loomed on the horizon and the Red Menace was lurking in the shadows.

The story begins with a man awaking in a train station in Washington, D.C. and having no idea how he got there, nor who he is. Juxtapositioned against the mystery man's chapters and his search through D.C. for his identity, Follett gives the reader brief tidbits, small history lessons about Explorer I, America's answer to Sputnik.

The readers know that the space race is tied to this mystery man. But how? The mystery man and the reader go on a search through Washington, D.C. to try and discover who he is, and why the CIA is trying to catch him. Did he really lose his memory? Is he a spy as some claim? Or is he the fall guy for some larger machinations at work? As he learns tidbits about himself, the mystery man is left with more questions than he had when he didn't even know his name.

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