The plane's the thing in this latest espionage/adventure yarn from veteran thriller-writer Cox (Sam 7, The KGB Directive),...



The plane's the thing in this latest espionage/adventure yarn from veteran thriller-writer Cox (Sam 7, The KGB Directive), as aeronautical details abound and characterizations and plotting take a back seat. Former RAF pilot Tom Lloyd answers an ad placed by a large Mideast oil conglomerate called CONOIL, but the job is unusually dangerous: to destroy a Pakistani airliner once it lands in Libya. The reason: the plane will be carrying an atomic weapon, bound for Qaddafi's clutches. The money offered Lloyd, and the chance to fly such a challenging mission, convince him to accept. He buys a vintage fighter, the legendary F-86 SABRE, and, working under an assumed identity, proceeds to have it modified in the US and England (we are given the process in painstaking detail). Lloyd then discovers that someone is dangerously tampering with the aircraft, but decides to press on and meet the challenge of the bombing run. Wangling his way to Malta with girlfriend Susie, and aided by a local anti-Libyan fisherman, Lloyd carries out the mission with spectacular success, destroying the Pakistani airliner and bailing out over the Mediterranean under the noses of the on-display Libyan Air Force and the nearby US Sixth Fleet. Fished out of the deep, he unexpectedly encounters Susie, and when he reaches land he hunts down and kills the mysterious Maltese whom he discovered was the one sabotaging the SABRE. He then learns, to his great surprise, that Susie and CONOIL are fronts for a clandestine espionage plot against Qaddafi, in which Lloyd was but a pawn. But the murky details of international politics aside, Lloyd has had a chance to fly a dream plane, and to defeat the hated Libyan dictator. While Lloyd is the nominal protagonist, and is not unappealing, the real hero here is the SABRE jet. Laggardly paced, and herky-jerky on the ground, the novel moves best when describing the art and power of flight. Unfortunately, the climactic bombing-run seems too short and sweet to be satisfying after the lengthy build-up we're given. Altogether, airplane enthusiasts will be entertained, but others may find that there's too long a wait at the hangar before the flight leaves.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1985


Page Count: -

Publisher: Stein & Day

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985