A silly, thin, techno-conspiracy notion (something like an updated Stepford Wives), padded out to a slow 320 pages with suspense cliches, tedious romantic banter, extraneous sex, and TV-newsroom atmosphere. It all begins engagingly enough--as 60-year-old, Cronkite-like super-anchorman Harvey Grunwald demands an outrageous $10 million per year for his last, five-year contract (he's got a grudge against the network). But the flimsy scenario here all too soon becomes apparent: the network biggies are going to respond by doing Something Evil to Harvey, beginning with the murders (disguised as accidents) of his wife, kids, and best friends. And when Harvey, after a mourning period, then re-appears on the air (to even higher ratings) but otherwise seems to have vanished, his cameraman chum Jeff Campbell gets suspicious and starts sleuthing. The obligatory attempts on Jeff's life ensue; he responds by hiring mountainman Wade Nolan, a bloodthirsty, orgy-loving Vietnam vet, as bodyguard/cohort; the good guys (now including gorgeous Tracy, Jeff's new bedmate and partner in pseudo-repartee) deduce that Harvey's being held prisoner at some secret broadcast source; Tracy is kidnapped by one of the bad guys, a sadistic pervert, and must be rescued. And finally they trace the transmission to Princeton, where a drug-addicted scientist has reluctantly conspired with the network to murder Harvey and replace him with computer image-processing: ""Once we had digltalized Harvey's image and analyzed him in all his moods. . . it became relatively simple to create a moving, breathing, speaking Harvey without having to have his actual physical presence. . . ."" Scarborough and Murray never make this hoax plausible or concrete (they totally sidestep the problems of secretly coordinating Harvey's remote-broadcast image with the other elements of a national news show), and the cardboard heroes here are less sympathetic than is usual in conspiracy suspense; only the callous TV newsroom banter, though overdone, occasionally comes alive (fire victims are ""crispies,"" on-camera reporters are ""mike stands""). Certainly a cut above Scarborough's execrable Stryker, but at best a just-readable also-ran in the crowded thriller field.