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Another solid, cynical British-spy diversion from the author of Blame the Dead and others. Major Harry Maxim is a keen-witted, manly SAS officer. but he's a widower who's hardly in line for further promotions. So it's mysterious when he's transferred for no known reason to 10 Downing Street to act as a personal security guard of sorts for Professor John Tyler, the atomic whiz and womanizing Cambridge don who's to play a vital role at an upcoming European weapons conference. What's the catch? Well, Tyler is also the author of a famous book about his North African WW II service and a tremendous trek he and three others made through burning desert for eleven days without food. And a middle-level Intelligence agent has just committed suicide after writing a letter about the truth of Tyler's celebrated adventure; this letter is now lost, and the KGB may get it and turn the conference against Britain. Moreover, a wild man keeps showing up and trying to alert the Prime Minister and the country about Tyler's secret nasty deed (cannibalism); this lunatic tosses a dud grenade into 10 Downing and tries to shotgun Tyler. So Maxim's job is to fend off these attacks and get hold of the letter--which involves bedding a Czech agent (she's assassinated), interviewing the letter-writer's widow (she's blown up), and digging up the survivors of that WW II trek. The finale: assassination at the big conference. Routine plotting, but sharp-edged and enlivened with smart, ironical dialogue.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1980
Publisher: Viking