Damp Fireworks

TITLE: HONOR AMONG THIEVES

AUTHOR: JEFFREY ARCHER

PUBLISHER: HARPERCOLLINS; 386 PAGES; $23

THE BOTTOM LINE: When in the course of human events, inspiration fails, it's time for lunch.

Saddam Hussein, at least as he is caricatured in Western demonology, is the perfect comic-book villain for Jeffrey Archer's latest summer-weight thriller. ) What's more, the Iraqi strongman has cooked up a fiendish scheme to humiliate the Great Satan: steal the Declaration of Independence from its place in the U.S. National Archives, and burn it on July 4, 1993, in Baghdad's Victory Square. Horrors! Curses! Zounds!

Or words to that effect. Alas, brilliance...

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