Emphatically billed as ""a novel of computer espionage,"" this amateurish first novel mostly just rehashes a number of...

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PROGRAM FOR A PUPPET

Emphatically billed as ""a novel of computer espionage,"" this amateurish first novel mostly just rehashes a number of conspiracy-suspense clichÉs--and has far less actual computer fascination than Bruce Jackson's The Programmer (1979) and other recent forays into computer intrigue. The blank-faced hero here is Australian newsman Edwin Graham (often referred to, lumberingly, as ""the Australian""), whose newswoman girlfriend is killed while investigating rumors of super-computers (useful in military matters) being smuggled into Russia. So Graham (funded by the dead girl's rich aristocrat father) picks up the sleuthing trail in Europe, while author Perry unwisely lets us in on the whole farfetched conspiracy: U.S. conglomerate Lasercomp is not only smuggling computers to the Commies; it's also planning to get a handpicked candidate elected president--a scheme that is being controlled by advice from a ruthless, all-knowing computer. The action then bounces back and forth between capital-hopping Graham (sparring with KGB agents, bedding femmes fatales, gathering evidence of the smuggling) and Lasercomp's fiendish doings (assassinating a rival candidate, casting suspicion on the incumbent president, fabricating a tape, etc.). Not an unworkable plot--but Perry writes leaden narrative and stiff dialogue, has little feel for U.S. milieus (he's an Australian living in London), colors the entire nonsense with a simpleminded anti-Soviet stance that would make even William F. Buckley, Jr. wince, and--worst of all--never makes the villains' Computer a convincingly awesome conspirator. (Mostly it just says what any savvy politico would say.) A little James Bond, a little Manchurian Candidate--busy but plodding, and devoid of even marginal suspense.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980