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First-novelist Conan spins a tale of parapsychologists trying to prevent a KGB plot to disable American nuclear deterrence, assassinate Gorbaehev (still uncertain of his power in 1986), and make the world safe for hard-line Communism. Conan's hero, Fraser (""Fray"") MacKenzie, is a Denver neurologist who shares a secretary with Alex Chatov, a psychiatrist with a consuming interest in psi phenomena, especially ESP and telekinesis. At Alex's urging, Fray reluctantly allows himself to be tested--discovering that he's an unusually promising subject--and plans to accompany Alex to Russia as the token skeptic attending a Soviet-American conference on parapsychology Organized by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. But before they can leave, a woman bursts into Fray's office claiming rape; a truck chases and almost runs him down; and he dreams of Alex's murder, only to see his dream fulfilled the next morning. Determining to take Alex's place at the conference, Fray decides that his death was ordered by a KGB mole who has penetrated the IPPNW and concentrates on identifying the mole while growing closer to his Soviet counterparts--especially to Alex's dissident niece Anna, who gradually reveals to him how highly skilled psi subjects are planning to cripple American defenses and allow the Soviets to launch a preemptive strike just eight days away. Can Fray elude the killers and pass on the information in that time? Of course, he can; in fact, once the plot is laid out, you'll spend most of this story waiting for twists that never come. Heartfelt but predictable--less effective as a thriller than as a plea for mutual tolerance and a tourist's reminiscence of scientific conventions in Moscow.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 1989
Publisher: Mid-List (P.O. Box 20292, Denver, CO 80220)