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Veteran British agent Quiller returns (The Peking Target, 1981), this time to foil an international conspiracy to take over the world through subliminal thought control. Quiller is sent to Miami to investigate the strange behavior of his old colleague George Proctor. Has Proctor been turned by the Soviets? Is he on drugs? Yes and yes--and there's much worse, as Quiller learns with the help of sexy diving-instructor Kim Harvester, jittery news-anchor Erica Cambridge, and undercover cop Monique Lacroix. Though he thinks he's hit bottom when two near-misses show him that Proctor's put out a Mafia contract on him, Quiller doesn't see the truth until he hears Erica mouthing exactly the same speech about Presidential hopeful Senator Mathieson Judd that he'd been fed by Proctor and then repeated verbatim himself--and until he realizes that subliminal messages added to TV commercials are turning Americans into zombies ready to support Judd and his masters, who want to ""buy America and sell it to the Soviets"" as part of a benevolent totalitarian world-order, a new Thousand-Year Reich. Be warned, though, that this appealing conceit (more mind-control under the subliminal messages that TV already purveys) and the fine action sequences it inspires are diluted with much windy philosophizing (Quiller can't grab an assailant's ankle without generalizing about life in the field) and truculent addresses to the reader (""it made me cross, and if you don't understand what I'm talking about it's your problem""). Throughout, Quiller is pure Quiller--maybe a little purer than usual--and his long-term fans will welcome his return. Newcomers may be put off by a style that's both manic and weary, like a caffeine high.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow