The wedding guest is Peter Stanhope--who comes home to 1979 Connecticut (from soul-searching action in Africa) just in time...

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THE WEDDING GUEST

The wedding guest is Peter Stanhope--who comes home to 1979 Connecticut (from soul-searching action in Africa) just in time to be near-fatally shot at by a sniper during the wedding of his young brother Austin, What's going on? Well, the sniper, it seems, was really after Austin. And the sniper seems to be working for none other than former Pres. Nixon (here called ""The Man""). But why? Does it have to do with the fact that the Stanhopes' father runs a private-spy company which does contract work for the CIA? (Peter left home, infuriating Stanhope père, after another brother was killed in a CIA-linked Iran operation.) And what does it have to do with the Shah--who's currently in the midst of his problems with taking refuge in the US? All of this does soon become clear, if not terribly believable. (Austin has happened upon the code by which Iranian millions will, via ruthlessly greedy Nixon, bribe the Shah's way into America.) But, even if first-novelist Wiltse's plotting is more whimsical than forceful, he delivers one taut action sequence after another here--as Austin goes into hiding and Peter is left to duel with a series of genuinely scary, Nixon-funded killers: there are harrowing showdowns with assorted weapons in a hospital room, in the apartment of Peter's new love interest, in Grand Central Station. And finally, after the supreme hired-killer has kidnapped Austin, there's an ultimate outdoors duel-to-the-death (with spears, no less). True, many readers will find Wiltse's grand-guignol portrait of ""The Man"" to be a pretty extreme example of gratuitous Nixon-kicking. And the pace sometimes suffers from flashbacks or from a few too many CIA-connected subplots. But for those who like their thrillers visceral, violent, yet somehow personable (at its best this is reminiscent, perhaps intentionally, of Marathon Man), Wiltse's debut will provide considerable diversion--and, however flawed, it's one of the more promising thriller-fiction debuts to come along in recent months.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981