A changing of the guard at the CIA attracts some corrupt politicos with eyes on the White House at the start of this sharply plotted thriller, a step up for popular writer Flynn (The Third Option, etc.). Unfortunately for the bad guys, upright CIA agent Dr. Irene Kennedy is tapped to replace her dead boss, foiling their illicit fund-raising plans. Corrupt politico number one, Sen. Hank Clark, enlists Irene's envious second to discredit her and the president. Clark and his cronies are also eager to deal with CIA special ops assassin Mitch Rapp, who's stuck on desk duty after nearly losing his life on a previous assignment and seems ripe to be taken out. Mitch accompanies his girlfriend, White House reporter Anna Rielly, to Italy, where he meets up with his former lover, freelance assassin Donatella Rahn. When Rahn is shot, Mitch uncovers a plot linked to the men behind the threats to Irene and the CIA. Meanwhile, reports surface that Saddam Hussein has acquired nuclear weapon components from North Koreans, who are assembling them in a factory buried beneath a Baghdad hospital. This calls for a gutsy mission, one that entails stopping Saddam while avoiding the PR nightmare that bombing a hospital would cause. Irene pulls Mitch into the plans to deal with Baghdad while she grapples with Congress. Flynn knows his politicians and pits his characters against impossible odds with nonstop action and suspense thus distracting fans from all the clich‚s and mediocre prose and a final fillip will keep them guessing as to Mitch's future in the series. (Oct. 9)Forecast: The legions of readers who landed The Third Option on the New York Times bestseller list will be back for more. They'll also have a chance to catch Flynn during his eight-city author tour.