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Comic-book espionage--crude yet strangely likable--about a Palestinian splinter group's plan to drop a neutron bomb on Tel Aviv during Israel's Independence Day celebrations. The plan: publicity-hungry Hossein Bakhari, leader of the Al-Karmal terrorists, uses bribery to steal the Defense Department's list of US neutron bomb stashes in Europe; with technical help from an old Nazi (soon eliminated), his men grab two neutron artillery shells from a US base in Belgium; and from there it's on to a hideout in Lebanon, then by boat to a secret landing in Gaza, carrying on board the bombs and the helicopter that will drop them on Tel Aviv. But meanwhile, of course, as Hunt's focus bounces around wildly, assorted forces are on Bakhari's trail, determined to figure out what he's up to and stop him. The CIA and FBI investigate, though the White House is ambivalent about protecting Israel. Israel's Mossad blackmails info out of Bakhari's N.Y. girlfriend. Secret agent Jay Black--a N.Y.-Jewish ad-man who works for both the US and Israel--investigates an Arab-connected journal in Copenhagen, and (thanks to his affair with Arab/Jewish Reba, ""utterly feminine and utterly desirable"") he locates Bakhari's Paris girlfriend--who is grabbed by Mossad and tortured for information. And while Mossad chases after the terrorists (always one step behind), married Jay learns that new love Reba is really an agent for yet another, equally murderous, ""Pal-Lib"" group; she shoots him in Cairo, in fact. . . but he recovers, super-hero style, in time to join the shootout finale with the would-be bombers in Gaza. Completely inferior to The Hargrave Deception (1980)--especially since Jay's first-person narration clashes amateurishly with the third-person viewpoint everywhere else. And much of the stilted, repetitious dialogue (worst when the political leaders chat) is truly awful. But, with all the glaring faults, there's still a measure of old-fashioned, straight-ahead zest here--a careless vigor which undemanding suspense-readers may find grittily agreeable.

Pub Date: July 28th, 1981
Publisher: Stein & Day