THE WRONG MAN by David E. Fisher


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 Fisher is a Bo Jackson of writing, an author whose yen to excel in two literary arenas--thrillers (Hostage One, 1989, etc.) and popular science (Across the Top of the World, 1992, etc.) seems to spread his talent a bit thin. Here's his latest fiction--a typically clever but not electrifying tale of three assassins stalking one another in Europe and the US. As usual, Fisher's world has few straight lines: The plot often folds back on itself, and nearly everyone in it lies. The story opens with top German spy Klaus Vorsage offering top hit-man Jean-Paul Mendoza a million marks to kill two men: an unnamed target, and a retired CIA assassin, Walter Naman. Mendoza agrees, unaware of Vorsage's next move: to warn Naman of the hit in order to see whether Naman or Mendoza is the better killer. Naman is, eliminating Mendoza quickly, and so Vorsage offers Naman the big hit: on German Chancellor Gottfried Waldner, whom Vorsage claims is a closet Nazi, uncovered by Vorsage's boss, the vice-chancellor. But the truth is that Vorsage's real master is German tycoon Gerhard Hauptmann, who wants Waldner dead before the Chancellor can shut down Hauptmann's illicit arms business. Moreover, Hauptmann hasn't told Vorsage that, as backup, dogging Naman's every step will be Hauptmann's own pet killer, Carlos Grass. Into this incredibly tangled nest of vipers steps ice-blooded viper-killer David Melnick, Mossad-agent/hero of Hostage One, as well as a resourceful Manhattan cop. Naman tracks the chancellor, Grass shadows Naman, Melnick hunts Grass and Naman, and the cop marvels at Melnick, with tense set pieces (including the burying alive of Melnick) keeping the action twisty, brisk, and bloody. Fisher's characters seem mere pawns in his baroque plotting, but he moves them with finesse, making this solid enough fare for the Forsyth/Follett crowd.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40935-1
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993


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