CONDITION BLACK by Gerald Seymour


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 An agent-assassin for Iraq runs rampant on British soil in Seymour's powerful and intelligent new thriller, set--and apparently completed--just before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. As in The Running Target (1989), An Eye for an Eye (1988), and nine earlier novels, Seymour writes here of a skirmish in the perpetual war between freedom and tyranny: of the hunt in England by young FBI agent Bill Erlich for the British-born Iraqi agent who accidentally killed Bill's CIA-pal with a bullet aimed at an Iraqi dissident. Bulldogging through British bureaucracy, Erlich ferrets out his quarry's identity: Colin Oliver Louis Tuck (``Colt'')--wild son of aristocracy, adopted and molded into a killing machine--as shown in grim Iraq-set scenes--by one of Saddam's henchmen. Like Erlich, whose dedication is tarnished by ruthlessness, Colt proves a well-shaded, complex character; he's back in England to visit his dying mother as well as to subvert ambitious and disillusioned British physicist Frederick Bissett to Iraq's nuclear program: this treated in a major subplot, enriched by a poignant portrait of Bissett's despairing wife, that Seymour intercuts with Erlich's search for Colt. When that search ends, Colt and his girlfriend beat Erlich to near-death; as the Yank recovers, Colt snares Bissett, speeding off to Heathrow and a flight to Baghdad. But back in Iraq, a brave Swedish scientist/Mossad spy has sniffed out Colt's plan; when his warning reaches London, Erlich and British colleague James Rutherford race to Heathrow, where Erlich shoots at Colt--and accidentally kills Rutherford: an irony compounded when, in a furious climax, Erlich kills Bissett but Colt steals away.... Morally charged, politically astute, and utterly unromantic-- an admirably gritty-gray slice of spydom by the ever-reliable Seymour.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-10631-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991


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