SMOKE SCREEN by Vincent Patrick


Email this review


Admirers of the W. R. Burnett classic The Asphalt Jungle will enjoy this nifty updating by Patrick (Family Business, 1985, etc.), best known for his richly ethnic Manhattan oeuvre. Well-planned heists gone awry are always a kick. Here, Patrick adds a crisis in the hot zone, with Fidel Castro about to demonstrate his new biological weapon on a small religious cult outside Woodstock, hub of the folkie universe. With this demonstration and the threat of a far more devastating release of his airborne virus, Fidel hopes to get the US embargo lifted and business ties with the States restored. When the President gets wind of something in the air, he calls in top CIA honcho Linwood Cutshaw, who says he’ll take care of all of this—in secrecy. Cutshaw, who has bugged Castro’s privacy, knows that the horrible hemorrhagic virus is being delivered to Manhattan, where it will be “administered” by the Cuban doctor who brought it back from an isolated Zairean village. Cutshaw decides that kidnaping the doctor and his virus will disarm Fidel’s plan. But the kidnaping must look like an accident during a four-man robbery of the fancy hotel where the doctor will be staying. Members of the team venturing into the hotel will be Special Services killer Jay Garrick, ex-detective Teddy Tedesco, ex-CIA agent Chuck Breslin, and thief Frank Belmont. At this point, the story leads into familiar Patrick turf and becomes what W. R. Burnett defined crime to be: a left-handed form of human endeavor. Not everyone on the team knows just what the whole affair is about, anyhow; Belmont, for example, thinks it’s a mere three million-dollar jewel heist. Then things go sour when Cutshaw secretly orders a second team to go in . . . . Smart, fast, gripping: everything we—d want from realistic suspense.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-15536-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1998