Inventive plot-maker Quinnell (Man on Fire, The Mahdi) now constructs a complex fictional scenario behind the scenes of...



Inventive plot-maker Quinnell (Man on Fire, The Mahdi) now constructs a complex fictional scenario behind the scenes of Israel's 1981 destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor at El-Tuwaitha--with results that are alternately intriguing, clever, and foolish. First, in a fairly bewildering Vietnam-war prologue, we meet a high-strung gaggle of characters: top British combat-photographer Dave Munger, who has a breakdown and abandons his career; Dave's nasty sometime-lover, French newswoman Janine Lesage; US photographer Duff Paget, a secret, weak CIA agent with new Jewish wife Ruth; and Hong Kong's rich, fat trader Walter Blum, a spymaster for Israel. But what do all these folks have to do with Iraq 19817 Well, in the 1970s, when the Iraqi nuclear threat looms, Blum is in charge of the counter-action--and he decides that unstable Munger, now a hermit on Cyprus, is just the man he needs to get proof (for US eyes) that the French/Iraqi reactor is indeed headed for bomb-making. Furthermore, Ruth Paget, also on Cyprus after the Beirut death of estranged husband Duff, may be just the woman to convince Munger--whose mother was Jewish and died for Israel--that he should come out of seclusion and turn Zionist. So, indeed, Ruth and Munger fall in love after he exorcises his Vietnam nightmare with her (he stood by while atrocities went on); she dumps her other love--Israeli pilot Gideon. And Munger returns to his photography career, secretly turns Israeli spy, and winds up covering the Iraq/ Iran war. . .but really sneaking around in order to get photos of the nuclear-bomb materiel. (Says Begin to spymaster Blum: ""Let everyone scream with the exception of President Reagan. He must know why we had to do it."") France, however, also has a super-spy in Iraq: she-devil Janine--who, before she's luridly killed by sudden-superwoman Ruth, manages to unmask Munger as an Israeli agent. And so, though Munger's mission succeeds, he's captured--which means that the Israeli air-raid must attempt to destroy the reactor and rescue Munger. (Guess which pilot is picked to save Munger? Ruth's still-adoring lover Gideon, of course.) Partly ingenious, partly inane, occasionally distasteful: an uneven but mostly lively concoction for the fanciful-espionage readership.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1982

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