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As idiotic as The Windchime Legacy (1980) but without the bounce: another imitation-Ludlum thriller, bloated with talk and flashbacks. Christian Gladieux, a Frenchborn bestselling writer, is murder/mutilated in his New Jersey home--supposedly as vengeance for Gladieux's WW II betrayal of the Resistance. But was Gladieux really killed because he was about to expose the true Resistance traitor? Or was he really, really killed because he was about to expose ""Salamandra,"" a.k.a. ""Trinity,"" a group founded before WW II that is now ""the force of destruction and chaos that threatened every form of government and private sector in the world""? So it seems--when, in an hilariously unconvincing bit of plotting, everyone who has read the outline of Gladieux's new book is neatly killed. (And the outline of the manuscript vanishes.) Gladieux's son Michael, a Vietnam vet, vows revenge--and heads for France, with sister Gabrielle and brother-in-law Danny, to find that real collaborator. (The Resistance story is told through tedious, awkwardly interpolated flashbacks.) Meanwhile, a patriotic, private US agency called ""Sub Rosa"" is pursuing the Salamandra theory: their only hope is to somehow track down the Jewish apprentice who helped make the glass Salamandra pendants for the secret leadership back in 1936. (The apprentice--who will eventually be located in Israel via ludicrous coincidence and a mystical Gypsy--is also followed through flashbacks.) And throughout, while the obvious villains try to kill the good guys, the plot is rehashed over and over and over--in uncommonly foolish, stilted dialogue. (""I feel like I'm on a goddamned merry-go-round traveling too fast to even see the brass ring we're supposed to grab. I don't know if we're after a collaborator, a pendant holder, or what."") Finally, then, after a few deaths and a lifeless love affair for Michael, Sub Rosa zeroes in on the Trinity threat--""the world as we know it today may not exist in two years""--and an epilogue informs us that Sub Rosa has easily won the day against this worldwide conspiracy. (""It was a piece of cake."") Little action, oceans of soggy chat, and no puzzle to go along with the murk and nonsense--so, though some Windchime fans may tolerantly keep turning the pages, most readers will agree with the character who says: ""Why do you go on with this meaningless gibberish? . . . I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about. Pendants, keys, secrets--you don't make any sense.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's