The Aleph Solution
writing as Webster Mews, with Sandor Frankel
Stein and Day Publishers, 1978, 241pp., hardcover ed.
Berkley Books, 1981, American paperback ed.
Melbourne House, 1978, British Commonwealth ed.
New English Library, 1982 British paperback ed.
Manhattan Publishers, 1982, Swedish ed., titled Gisslan Tagen!
Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1981, Italian ed., titled Reazioni a Catena
A thriller set in the late 1970s. Mideastern terrorists commit random atrocities around the world that might add up to an elusive pattern. A fabled Israeli commando, teaming up with American agents, solves the mystery, but not before the terrorists hold the whole world hostage, by taking over the United Nations in New York. Will the American president be forced to capitulate?
What is mostly eerie about this book now, nearly four decades later, is that many of its "predictions" came true, like an attempted assassination of the pope. The plot device that allowed the good guys to creep up on the terrorists, who were watching their surroundings on television, was later used in the popular movie "Speed." But we got there first.
Shortly after the Israeli rescue of the hostages at Entebbe, Sandy Frankel and I got to talking, as I recall it initially over lunch at Pastrami n' Things in the mid-50s in Manhattan, about how it might play out if the hostages were somewhere other than Uganda, say in New York. The conversation kept going and we plotted it out, assigning each other chapters to draft, right down to the ambiguous ending that the Swedish publisher, apparently unsettled by it, managed to omit.
The year-plus delay in publication of the American paperback editions was attributable to world politics: it coincided with the period that American hostages were held in Iran after the Shah's departure and until their release on the day President Reagan was inaugurated. The publisher was worried about the propriety of releasing a thriller about Islamic terrorists taking American hostages.
From the reviewers
"The most imaginative fictional coup of the century."
"Moves like a projectile."
"The suspense builds, the action is fast-pace and the climax should satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader."