Veteran thriller-maker Smith finally hit it big with the gritty Hungry as the Sea (1980)--but, despite a strong beginning,...



Veteran thriller-maker Smith finally hit it big with the gritty Hungry as the Sea (1980)--but, despite a strong beginning, this new adventure lapses into cartoon-melodrama nonsense. Atlas Command, a worldwide airborne antiterrorist attack unit, is presided over from the Pentagon by leonine Dr. Kingston Parker, who plays Liszt on his office piano while reading files on his team members. And when a four-person terrorist team kidnaps a Boeing 707 with 400 aboard (including the world's top 300 surgeons), lining the interior with super-grenades that will go off unless black South African political prisoners are released, young General Peter Stride leads his whipsmart Atlas team (the ""Thor"" division) to the hostage plane, and begins negotiations. The South African government is unable to meet the terrorists' demands, however--and when some hostages are executed, Stride goes against Parker's orders and activates ""Condition Delta,"" hitting the plane successfully, killing all the terrorists (including a wounded female); he's then forced to resign from the army by public opinion. But wealthy, stunningly beautiful Baroness Magda Altmann, whose husband was tortured to death by terrorists, then hires Stride to lead her personally financed anti-terrorist group against Caliph--the shadowy, rich ruler who has hewn world terrorism into one monolith. Caliph responds by kidnapping Stride's teenage daughter, sending him her finger and promising to send more bits and pieces unless he assassinates Parker. And when Parker's men manage to free Stride's daughter, a wave of revelations begins rolling in: Stride's beloved baroness is a triple-agent; Stride's own millionaire brother is a backer of the evil Caliph; and--as Stride discovers when he disguises himself as his brother--Caliph is really Parker! Undoubtedly, a lot of readers are going to be hooked by that airplane-hostage opening. But most of them (especially those counting on the earthy toughness of Hungry as the Sea) are going to be mighty disappointed when they find this thriller dissipating into Dr. No and Fu Manchu antics of the most undistinguished kind.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980