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An especially far-fetched plot and unconvincing dialogue mar this romantic thriller, set primarily in Afghanistan and Russia, from bestseller Johansen (Dark Summer). Emily Hudson, a U.N. artifacts expert, is trying to track down a vicious criminal who may have stolen "Zelov's hammer." Hidden inside the old mallet is a treasure map to the long-lost riches of Russia's assassinated Romanov family. Helping Hudson is a rough-and-ready CIA tracker, whose physical charms prove irresistible to the usually proud and independent Hudson. As is Johansen's wont, the romance competes head-to-head with the chase, with annoying effect. Love scenes and hokey romantic dialogue closely follow or precede those of perilous action. On one page, Hudson will be steely and adept, then, on the next, fragile and feeble. By the time the plot hits the homestretch, many readers will have a hard time taking it seriously. 650,000 first printing. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.