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Comic-book suspense and fanciful space-science make for a farfetched, if lively, little thriller debut--with science journalist Steven Borg as the narrator-hero on the run. An unexplained accident has left spaceship Excalibur (successor to Columbia) stranded in space, its crew dead. Borg, given some clue-phrases by a mysterious stranger (""Brideshead,"" ""Godfoot,"" ""Kiev Centre""), starts sleuthing around NASA--while wondering if there could be a connection to the recent reported space-death of his cosmonaut-friend Vladimir Danilov. He soon learns that a renegade group of NASA scientists has come up with a plan to bring Excalibur down--before it falls on Russia--via a robot-ized Apollo command module. But obviously Borg has been digging too deep for comfort: his chum Marcia is murdered in his bed; Borg himself is almost killed, goes underground, flies to Washington in a private plane (another near-fatal accident, with US government assassins apparently at work), abducts a NASA official as a hostage. Then, when the Huntsville operation goes ahead (viewed by camera on earth), the NASA chicanery/cover-up starts to come into focus: it involves a nasty plan to provoke the USSR into displaying its killer-satellite technology. And the final pages involve lots more bloodshed, the unmasking of double-agents galore, a showdown with a Russian who's just as evil as the NASA schemers. . . and true love for Borg and his pilot/romance Pam. Mostly foolish and busy--but the space-technology does give this a slight edge over some of the many similar coverup/conspiracy suspensers.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1983
Publisher: Dodd, Mead