Ahhh - now this is more like it. I want to seize on a thought Chris posted and second it - he does indeed seem to be getting better with each book. Sure people still talk in stats and tell each other things they already know (In Rohmer World, short-term amnesia must run rampant), but this is the first of the three that hangs together and keeps the digressions to a minimum. (though the scene where we flashback to ravishing Jessica Swift being offered the Secretary of State job by the president is perhaps the best/worst example yet of this kind of thing. "Don't forget Jessica, if you take this job..." followed by a long paragraph telling her exactly what the job entailed. In case, you know, she thought she was interviewing to work at Tim Horton's).
But the plane crash is actually a well-written action sequence - stressful and tense the way it should be. Pity it means nothing overall - by the time the PM gets around to talking to the President, everything has been wrapped up except for the issue of the North Sea Oil rights - no thanks to that union-loving Hobson.
Speaking of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hobson is less a character than a purposefully wimpy union supporter who exists to strengthen the theme that unions are the root of all of the UK's problems, not Saudi Arabia. It's a little obvious that Rohmer is rather transparently anti-union - whenever anyone (okay - everyone except poor old Hobson) speaks about how evil they are, it's interchangeable regardless of the character.
But still - implausibilities aside, this was definitely a big step up from the first two. Letter grades????
Hmmm. Okay - I'll try:
ULTIMATUM - C
EXXONERATION - C+
EXODUS UK - B+
This is all in relation to each other - the only way I think of doing it.
So - what's next?
PS: I just realized Balls! is also about energy. How many pages till we get to the first reference to the pipeline in the Mackenzie Delta?