Hardcover debut for a veteran of the paperback shelves: a near-future light comedy-intrigue about the construction of an instantaneous transport device. Freelance writer/systems-designer Mitch Banning stumbles across an old acquaintance, a con-man now calling himself Elihu Coogan whose hooks are already deeply embedded in Howard Hughes- like businessman George Detweiler. Curious, Mitch involves himself, only to learn that a drug-addicted physicist, Olin Pedicord, has designed an instantaneous transporter—or so Coogan has persuaded Detweiler. But a third party also seems convinced: The Green Hornet sends letter bombs, arranges electrocutions, shoots at project members, and demands big payoffs. While Mitch investigates, Coogan arranges an apparently foolproof demonstration of the device, and Detweiler duly coughs up more cash. Mitch learns, however, that not only is the Hornet a project employee, but also that he's prepared to murder again. Finally, during an attempt to transport a human being, the machine blows up; Coogan absconds with a pile of dough; the Hornet is unmasked and killed; and Detweiler surveys a smoldering pile of junk. But Mitch has been watching Pedicord closely, and knows that the device really did work. Eventually, having failed to interest Detweiler, Mitch assembles his own team for another, more practicable, attempt. Agreeably constructed and set forth—unfortunate, then, that the overall effect is uninvolving and as flat as yesterday's beer.
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