A DISTURBANCE IN PARIS by Carl Fick

A DISTURBANCE IN PARIS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fick's archly stylish, crisply cinematic attack here is almost--but not quite--zesty enough to refresh a stolid, predictable innocent-bystander-among-the-spies scenario. Alex Marin is a semi-failed American screenwriter in Paris whose actress-mistress has just committed suicide. And after shady friend Nikki helps Alex to pass off the death as a natural one, Alex owes Nikki a favor--so he agrees to meet a certain Mr. Kefalos at the airport. What Alex doesn't know, of course, is that Nikki is working for a Baader-Meinhof group, and that Kefalos is their money-messenger. But what nobody knows, at least for a while, is that this Kefalos is an impostor: an Israeli agent who's tracking down the B-M cell. Soon, then, ""Kefalos"" has disappeared with the terrorists' money, Nikki's been killed, Alex has been taken prisoner by the terrorists--first pumped for information on the Israeli agent, then forced to join in a bank caper (Alex kills a guard unintentionally), then treated to B-M indoctrination by professorial group-leader Prinz. Meanwhile: the French police want Alex for murder; Alex's daughter Janice and old chum Max start hunting for him; the Israeli agent is nabbed by the terrorists; a West German anti-terrorist cop gets on the trail. And finally, when Alex agrees to put together a film tribute to Ulrike Meinhof for Prinz, he manages to escape, with new terrorist-love Janna (""She was the only young, puzzling, exciting, innocent, homicidal, sophisticated-dumb woman he had ever met"")--so there'll be an Alex plan to trap the terrorists and a very familiar brand of ironic bloodshed at the close. Fick doesn't succeed in shifting the tone here from flip/wry at the start to grim/emotional at the windup--and the pace starts sagging about halfway through. But the Parisian backgrounds are appealingly rough-edged, the narrative short-takes are often effective in a darkly breezy fashion, and suspense readers who prefer literate word-play to inventive plotting will find this an atmospheric recycling of some venerable formulas.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1982
Publisher: Little, Brown