October 13, 1997 12:00 PM

by Steven D. Salinger

Page-Turner of the Week

MAYBE WHEN YOU GET AROUND TO WRITING your first novel at 55, as Steven D. Salinger has, you don’t want to leave anything out. Behold the Fire has something for fans of several distinct flavors of thriller: amiably grizzled cops-on-the-case, slam-bang battles in the Cambodian jungle, nefarious military-industrial-complex scheming. The premise: A quarter-century after the end of the Vietnam war, an American POW/MIA, mild-mannered medic Zack Johnson, resurfaces—to the consternation of the Pentagon and a host of others who would have preferred him to remain invisible. It’s up to Ev Ransom, a dashing international smuggler and ex-POW/MIA, and Mel Fink, an aging NYPD detective, to get poor Zack home to his beloved mother in one piece. Salinger’s imagination occasionally overheats, and the dozens of secondary characters may leave you wishing for some sort of index (melodramatis personae?). But it would be hard to pack more suspenseful action into 372 pages. (Warner Books, $23)

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