by Bill Granger ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 17, 1982
A fairly disappointing follow-up to Schism (1981), which introduced super-spy Devereaux (""The November Man"") to hard-cover fiction--and especially disappointing now that Granger is revealed to be the ""Bill Griffith"" who wrote the magnificent Time for Frankie Coolin, one of 1982's best. This time, in fact, Devereaux himself doesn't appear on the scene till about halfway through--not until after a teasing, fractured, international spy-puzzle is sketched in. In Washington, unexplained data is popping up (with no apparent source) in the US Intelligence computer system: a dangerous build-up of Warsaw Pact troops and weapons is indicated! In England, a Soviet spy is murdered . . . after selling secrets to the British. In France, disillusioned US agent William Manning is investigating his old, once-betrayed flame Jeanne Clermont--a minor minister in the Mitterand government who seems to be in cahoots with radical terrorists. And in Moscow the Russians are playing computerized war games, with puzzling outcomes: why, in the WW III scenario, does France remain neutral? These are the pieces which Devereaux, enlisted after Manning is murdered, must fit together--which he does by trekking to England and France, discovering some more bodies, and gaining Jeanne Clermont's confidence: as he eventually learns, the grand USSR conspiracy involves the assassination of Mitterand (faked to look like a CIA operation), as well as the tricking of the West into premature WW III moves. And so there's the usual chase/showdown/ countdown action--with Devereaux determined to prevent the scheme from being detonated. Unfortunately, however, Granger's knotty, farfetched plotting here lacks the textured, Le CarrÃ‰-ish conviction of Schism; over-busy, too, is the dramatis personae, with none of the protagonists (Manning, Jeanne, Devereaux, the D.C. Intelligence chief, et al.) receiving enough focus--certainly not enough to warrant Granger's soulful dialogue and broodings. Still, if other spy novels have made cleverer use of computer technology and more suspenseful use of WW III game-plans, even below-par Granger is sturdy, professional entertainment--best in the supporting-cast vignettes (a matronly D.C. computer expert is kidnapped by well-meaning Soviet agents), always brisk in the steady-to-hectic action.
Pub Date: Nov. 17, 1982
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982
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