COAST OF FEAR by Caroline Crane


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Crane has done fairly well with mild terror in suburbia (Summer Girl, The Girls Are Missing)--but here she goes floppily astray, with a sub-routine damselin-distresser that seems to have been inspired by Agatha Christie's very weakest 1920s spy stories. Jessica Hayden, just out of college and touring Europe on the cheap, heads for Nice--to visit the family of her recently deceased roommate Francoise Lannier, apparent victim of a campus mugger. But was Francoise really killed, perhaps, by a mysterious pre-murder visitor named Weyland, who now seems to be following Jessica? And why does the cheerful young stranger on Jessica's train-salesman Steve from Cleveland (who calls Jessica ""dearie"")--urge her not to visit Francoise's family? And what about the enigmatic photograph entrusted to Jessica by Francoise, or the burglary of Jessica's hotel-room in Nice, or the explosive goings-on at the Lannier perfume factory? And so on . . . as Jessica is threatened by Weyland, romanced by Francoise's brother Marius (who calls her ""Zhessica""), then abducted, trussed up, shanghai'ed, rescued, and finally thrown into a showdown with the Yemen-terrorism mastermind known as ""El Jefe."" (He's Steve from Cleveland, of course, as any Christie veteran will know instantaneously.) Harmless, with some dabs of rudimentary sightseeing-but painfully flat and predictable.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Dodd, Mead