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The Zero Hour

The Zero Hour

3.5 10
by Joseph Finder, Jeff Gurner (Read by)

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FBI Special Agent and counterterrorism expert Sarah Cahill doesn't know the man she's tracking. But the so-called "Prince of Darkness" knows her--intimately. So when Sarah is summoned to Wall Street to investigate, little does she know that she's the one under surveillance… until the terrorist infiltrates himself into the deepest, most desperate


FBI Special Agent and counterterrorism expert Sarah Cahill doesn't know the man she's tracking. But the so-called "Prince of Darkness" knows her--intimately. So when Sarah is summoned to Wall Street to investigate, little does she know that she's the one under surveillance… until the terrorist infiltrates himself into the deepest, most desperate corners of her life.

Soon Sarah is plunged into a deep labyrinth of intrigue and catastrophe as she races to uncover a diabolically clever conspiracy…before time runs out…and the clock strikes THE ZERO HOUR.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At his best-as in this thriller about a terrorist plot to bring down Wall Street-Finder (Extraordinary Powers, 1994, etc.) rivals the early Frederick Forsyth in his riveting combination of cool prose and hot plot. Indeed, there's more of a hint of the Jackal in Baumann (aka Zero; aka the Prince of Darkness), a freelance terrorist/assassin who can slay and mutilate with "no visible change in [his] glacial demeanor." Baumann's new boss is billionaire Malcolm Dyson, an American fugitive in Switzerland who, motivated by greed and vengeance, breaks the terrorist out of a South African jail and agrees to pay him $10 million to trigger worldwide economic catastrophe by blowing up the computer network that's primarily responsible for trading on the Street. Arrayed against Baumann are, among other law-enforcement agencies, the FBI, personalized here through Agent Sarah Cahill, who uncovers links between Dyson's plot, a murdered call girl in Boston and a New York banker with a taste for masochistic sex. What ensues is a cerebral but violent chess game played by Baumann, Cahill and others, with Cahill's young son winding up as pawn. Again in the manner of Forsyth, Finder textures his story line with precise technical expositions; his details on bomb construction are particularly fine. Not impressively original, but controlled with a master hand, this is a thinking person's thriller with bite. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to 20th Century Fox; author tour. (May)
Library Journal
Finder (Extraordinary Powers, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/1/96) weaves an intricate and intriguing plot in his latest work of fiction. Fans of technothrillers, mystery, or spy fiction will love this timely excursion into the high-tech world of modern terrorism, counterterrorism, satellite communications, and the illicit munitions/weapons supply industry. The reading by J. Charles and some nice effectsespecially the phone conversationsdo the fast-paced story justice. The narrative also offers insights into some of the more infamous terrorist acts of the recent past. Additionally, Finder explores the rigors of maintaining a career while a single parent, getting along in modern society, and the demands of a law enforcement career. Very highly recommended.Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., Ohio
Kirkus Reviews
A well-briefed, well-financed, well-armed international terrorist goes up against the computer at the nerve center of a Wall Street bank.

Billionaire Malcolm Dyson, a fugitive from American justice ever since Manhattan Bank CEO Warren Elkind resisted his criminal blandishments and turned him in for insider trading, has been licking his wounds in his Swiss estate. And ever since a clandestine federal attempt to grab him for informal extradition without benefit of legal niceties left him crippled and his wife and daughter dead, Dyson's plans for revenge have broadened to include the US government. What can he do to send a mortal blow to both his enemies? Dyson breaks terrorist Henrik Baumann, the so-called Prince of Darkness, out of a South African prison so that Baumann can (1) tap into Manhattan's computer and siphon off billions in funds, and (2) plant a bomb that will bring the building crashing down and humble the CIA and FBI. But the murder of the prostitute who steals crucial computer codes from Elkind accidentally brings FBI agent Sarah Cahill into the case—her philandering NYPD ex-husband, who knows Sarah had been running the woman as an informant, calls her in to make the identification—and with a few additional lucky breaks (a secure phone line from Switzerland that's not so secure, an erased answering-machine tape Sarah succeeds in bringing back from the dead), we're off to the races, with the feds hot on the Prince's trail, and the Prince, who knows they're hunting him, icily determined, amid all the high-tech dirty talk, to kill anybody who gets too close.

Despite frequent echoes of the World Trade Center bombing, Finder (Extraordinary Powers, 1994, etc.) keeps the menace breathlessly exciting rather than grimly scary. The result is as fleet and entertaining as Black Sunday, if you don't mind rooting for an international bank.

From the Publisher

“Thrilling.” —The New Yorker

“Breathlessly exciting.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A labyrinth of suspense…brilliant…a master storyteller.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“A thinking person's thriller with bite.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Fast and furious.” —The New York Times Book Review on HIGH CRIMES

“Exciting . . . deliciously absorbing . . . full of hair-pin turns.” —The Washington Post on HIGH CRIMES

“A powerhouse tale.” —Chicago Tribune on HIGH CRIMES

“Provocative and chilling.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on HIGH CRIMES

“Rattling good entertainment.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) on HIGH CRIMES

“Financial thriller whiz Joe Finder has fully and seamlessly entered the world of Lee Child and James Rollins. A rousing, lightning-paced thriller from the first page to the last. ” —Providence Journal on VANISHED

“If Jack Reacher met Nick Heller in a dark alley, my money's on Reacher. But it would be ugly. Or would it? Actually, I think they'd go for a beer together and set the world to rights--because Joseph Finder has given me a terrific new hero to root for. This is an action-packed, full-throttle, buy-it-today-read-it-tonight series that you definitely shouldn't miss.” —Lee Child on VANISHED

“A humdinger....a thriller to enjoy for its Washington locales, convincing familiarity with cutting-edge spy gadgetry, and taut action scenes.” —Washington Post on VANISHED

“Cliffhangers galore, the fascinating tradecraft of corporate espionage, and an engrossing story will propel readers through this outstanding thriller. Highly recommended as a great summer read.” —Library Journal (starred review) on VANISHED

Product Details

Macmillan Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt



The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
-Sun-tzu, The Art of War

Prisoner number 322t88-he was known to the prison authorities as Baumann, though that was not his name at birth-had been planning this day with meticulous precision for quite some time.

He rose from bed very early and, as he did every morning, peered through the narrow barred window at the verdant mountainside that glittered emerald in the strong South African sunlight. Turning his gaze, he located the tiny, shimmering patch of ocean, just barely visible. He took in the distant caw of the seagulls. He could hear the jingling of chains worn by the most dangerous convicts as they tossed and turned in their sleep, and the barking of the Alsatians in the kennels next to the prison building.

Dropping to the cold concrete floor, he began his morning ritual: a series of limbering stretches, one hundred push ups, one hundred sit-ups. Then, his blood pumping vigorously, he showered.

By the standards of the outside world, Baumann's solitary cell was cramped and narrow. But it had its own shower and toilet, a bed, a table, and a chair.

He was in his early forties, but might have been taken for a decade younger. And he was strikingly handsome. His hair was full, black, and wavy, only slightly sprinkled with gray. His closely trimmed beard accentuated a jaw that was strong and sharp; his nose was prominent but aquiline, beneath a heavy brow; his complexion was the olive so prevalent in Mediterranean countries.

Baumann might have been mistaken for a southern Italian or a Greek were it not for his eyes, which were a brilliant, clear, and penetrating blue, fringed by longeyelashes. When he smiled, which was rarely and only when he wanted to charm, his grin was radiant, his teeth perfect and brilliantly white.

In his six years in Pollsmoor Prison he'd been able to achieve a level of physical training he could never have otherwise. He had always been remarkably fit, but now his physique was powerful, even magnificent. For when he wasn't reading there was little else to do but calisthenics and hwa rang do, the little-known Korean martial art he had spent years perfecting.

He changed into his blue prison uniform, which, like everything he wore, was stenciled with the number 4, indicating that it was property of his section of Pollsmoor Prison. Then, making his bed as usual, he began what he knew would be a long day.

Copyright © 1996 by Joseph Finder

Meet the Author

Joseph Finder is the author of several New York Times bestselling thrillers, including Buried Secrets, High Crimes, Paranoia and the first Nick Heller novel, Vanished. Killer Instinct won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Thriller, and Company Man won the Barry and Gumshoe Awards for Best Thriller. High Crimes was the basis of the Morgan Freeman/Ashley Judd movie, and both Paranoia and Killer Instinct are in development as major motion pictures.  Born in Chicago, Finder studied Russian at Yale and Harvard. He was recruited by the CIA, but decided he preferred writing fiction. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Association for Former Intelligence Officers, he lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The Zero Hour 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love joseph Finder and this was an excellent book when i read it in 1996!!!! Be careful when purchasing nook books i cant tell you readers how many books that i have purchaed that are labeled as a new release only to discover this book was released in 1996!!! Amazon usually puts that its "first time published as an ebook" why wont barnes and noble do the same?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book bases much of it's edge on the use of high-tech. NOOK lists the publish date as 2011, but it was really 1996. That was when a sat-phone the size of a briefcase was a big deal. It is not such a big deal today. I think Finder wrote this before he developed his skills as a great writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's only been one other book that i've put away and didn't finish. I've enjoyed Finder, books have read them all. This one how ever has to be the most boring book i've every tried to read. I read to page 110 hoping it would get better, for me it didn't. The 110 pages I read was nothing but description of things that I didn't understand or cared about. I'm giving it two stars and that is one more than I shoud give it.
Matthew Beckwith More than 1 year ago
Average. Lots of good research went into it. But it's not one of Finder's better efforts in my opinion.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recommend...all of his books are terrific at holding your attention and not wanting to put it down. Have read them all so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago