Hyman has lost part of his name: he was Vernon Tom Hyman when he wrote Giant Killer back in 1981. More seriously, he has...



Hyman has lost part of his name: he was Vernon Tom Hyman when he wrote Giant Killer back in 1981. More seriously, he has also lost the flair and energy that made Giant Killer one of the livelier Ludlum imitations--and this new KGB/CIA assassination-conspiracy thriller is both predictable and ludicrous as it moves hectically (yet sluggishly) along. US Prez Daniels and USSR premier Kamenev are in a limousine together in Washington when they're attacked by snipers: Kamenev is killed, his widow takes refuge in the White House, one of the assassins is captured. And, while former CIA agent Charles Warfield (a boozy, haunted stereotype) takes over the Mission Impossible-style interrogation of the stoic assassin, Prez Daniels--whose wife is a psychotic quasi-vegetable--falls madly, controversially in love with youngish Mrs. Kamenev. . . especially when he learns that she's a CIA spy who now wants to defect. But: is Mrs. K. really working for the CIA? Or is she working for KGB villain Semenenko (who rescued her from a labor-camp long ago)? Furthermore: could it be Semenenko who--with help from a CIA traitor--is behind a scheme to take over the USSR and the US? (They'll kill Daniels and replace him with the blackmail-able VP.) Well, Warfield starts uncovering all this nonsense after that assassin dies in the middle of the interrogation (poisoned food); he himself is nearly killed--becoming a fugitive, tracking down some of the villains, killing another one of the assassins. . . plus that CIA double agent. And then he realizes that Mrs. K., still ensconced in the White House, is carrying a hairbrush-bomb that'll blow up Prez Daniels when detonated by Semenenko (she thinks it's just a listening device). So it's off to the White House for a vain warning and a lot of wreck-age--after which Warfield, whose true love Tanya was killed during a CIA mission years ago, learns that Tanya is alive. (Guess who? It's a truly groan-worthy denouement.) Drenched in coincidence and very slow through the first half--but fanciers of bombs, poisons, and exotic killing devices (along with some old-fashioned violence) may find enough scene-by-scene stimulation to carry them through the comic-book dialogue and cartoonish plot.

Pub Date: June 2, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983