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Another busy, professionally crafted, uninspired doomsday-thriller from the author of The Hastings Conspiracy (1980)--this time, however, with a bit of extra grab in some echoes of the Teheran hostage crisis. It's the 1990s, and foreign correspondent Michael Rivas--an ex-CIA man--hears that his brother Cole, the CIA director, has been assassinated: could this be connected to the fact that Cole was suspicious about the ""New Peace Corps,"" a Third World reclamation group created by philanthropist Calder Davis? Perhaps. So Rivas heads for a New Peace Corps outpost in the South Arabian desert, where he meets--and eventually, unconvincingly, falls for--voluptuous Egyptian research physician Amira Shallai (an under-cover Israeli agent). And Rivas' suspicions about super-tycoon Calder Davis escalate when triumphant Muslim revolutionaries in the Saudi capital take 100 Western diplomats hostage (their demands are the familiar ones). . . and the US Prez appoints Davis as the negotiator! To Michael and his CIA-linked publisher it seems clear that Davis is pretty much controlling the US government: he apparently has big plans for US/Davis oil operations once the Arabs are out of the picture. And what about the New Peace Corps' strange 11,000-man ""Brigade""--a mercenary band which seems to be gearing up to free the hostages Determined to get the story (and the truth about brother Cole's death), Michael joins the mercenaries under a false name and soon is face to face with Davis himself--a fragile old zillionaire who wants Michael to record his not-very-original master plan for posterity: the Brigade will subdue the Arab oil cartel, knock out their wells with lethal ""ruthenium 106,"" and return world leadership to the US. And so it goes--with the Brigade eventually disbanded, but not before the hostages are released and the radioactive ruthenium is indeed sprayed. Lots of topical teasers here, of course, and a good deal more action than in the slower-moving Hastings Conspiracy. So, though the love-story is sheer cardboard and cartoonish implausibilities abound, this is a fairly solid bet for fanciers of international crises, scheming masterminds, and Mideast mayhem.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston