Picks and Pans Review: The Lions of Lucerne

updated 01/28/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/28/2002 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Brad Thor

Those jokes about cuckoo clocks and Toblerone have finally taken their toll: The Swiss turn diabolical in this globe-spanning thriller.

Swiss mercenaries—the lions of the title—are hired by U.S. businessmen enraged by the President's bill to cut fossil-fuel consumption. The plan: Kidnap the President and pretend Palestinian extremists are responsible. The wrinkle: Secret Service agent Scot Harvath—former Navy SEAL, former freestyle skiing sensation, all-around bad dude—who insists on single-handedly tracking down the Commander in Chief and bringing violent death to his unsavory captors. Enter sultry Swiss agent Claudia Mueller, whose own investigation brings her and Harvath together, in love and covert war.

In his first novel, Thor, the host of the PBS series Traveling Lite, packs in plenty of picturesque settings. The dialogue sometimes clunks, but Thor keeps his blue-eyed hero human. Add to that a rare romance that builds at a believable pace and you've got a hot read for a winter night. (Pocket, $25)

Bottom Line: Lions roars

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