Strong on plot, weak on character and style, this blocky but solid suspense debut suggests that a London communications...

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THE DOUBLE-CROSS CIRCUIT

Strong on plot, weak on character and style, this blocky but solid suspense debut suggests that a London communications conglomerate (GTT) creates a secret new security system called UNICOM for NATO, and then--in need of a bargaining lever in negotiating for a big contract from Moscow--offers to give Russia the decoding keys to UNICOM. A nicely Machiavellian move, but the alcoholic, bitter scientist who designed UNICOM disappears with the system plans; he strips himself of all identity and commits suicide in a seedy French hotel. So, while GTT, aided (idiotically) by CIA assassins, tries to save the Moscow negotiations by tracking down the scientist (they think he must have defected to France or Russia), the French police seek to attach a name to the mysterious suicide who has left only one word behind to identify himself--UNICOM. The basic notion here--of a dangerously huge business entity with loyalty to no flag but profit--is just about seductive enough to compensate for the easy-read, clop-clop prose, for the faceless protagonists on all sides, and for the poor strategy of holding back the most intriguing background details until far too late. So--an idea that deserves a rich (Le Carre) or tart (Greene) sauce, but is nonetheless perfectly edible in this thin and unflavored rendition.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1978