August 19, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

EW reviews four hot new thrillers

THE TRUDEAU VECTOR

Juris Jurjevics (Viking, $24.95) An American epidemiologist and a Russian submarine admiral cross paths when three scientists are discovered dead from an unknown cause at an Arctic research facility. Eventual Movie Pitch The Hunt for Red October meets The Thing meets Outbreak. Edge-of-Seat Quotient Moderate Bottom Line Trudeau‘s fascinating snowbound setting more than makes up for several underused characters and pages of interesting yet plot-stopping scientific explanations. B+

DEAD AT DAYBREAK

Deon Meyer (Little, Brown, $23.95) Former South African cop Zatopek van Heerden is hired to investigate the murder of an antiques dealer whose past is not what it seems. Eventual Movie Pitch Mix Mel Gibson’s conflicted cop in the original Lethal Weapon and the accented bad guys in Lethal Weapon 2. Edge-of-Seat QuotientLow Bottom Line Leaning more on psychological suspense than action-packed set pieces, Daybreak skillfully alternates between van Heerden’s current investigation and his tragedy-filled past. A-

VANISH

Tess Gerritsen (Ballantine, $24.95) An anonymous woman wakes up in the morgue and, hours later, takes a hospital wing hostage, just as a homicide detective is about to have her baby (and her FBI-agent hubby waits on the outside). Are the woman’s claims of a government conspiracy just crazy talk? Eventual Movie Pitch John Q meets No Way Out. Edge-of-Seat Quotient Moderate Bottom LineA perfectly serviceable thriller whose crime-fighting husband-and-wife team fail to distinguish themselves in any way. B-

PANIC

Jeff Abbott (Dutton, $23.95) When a young documentary filmmaker finds his mother murdered, his father missing, and a list of treacherous secret agents in his possession, he realizes that his entire family history might be a lie. Eventual Movie Pitch North by Northwest meets Mission: Impossible, but without the gadgets. Edge-of-Seat Quotient Sky-high Bottom LineWhile Abbott has no knack for subtlety, Panic opens with an action-packed, man-on-the-run scenario that doesn’t let up until many, many people are dead. B

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