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Another evil-cult expos‚ (see, for instance, Ginerva, p. 755)--this one set in 1982, when the Harmonetics Society is attracting millions of members, especially elderly ladies turned on by the vegetarian Society's special health care (rejuvenation treatments), by the pomp and ceremony (colored robes), and by charismatically sexy Harmonetics leader-philosopher Josiah Minden. But when one such Harmonetics member suddenly dies and leaves her fortune to the society, Bill Harding of National News magazine sends five investigative reporters out to infiltrate and get inside scoops on the Society. Elderly charmer Henrietta Beale joins up, makes donations, and eventually signs on for the possibly dangerous rejuvenation treatment. Svelte Jade Boren becomes a volunteer in the Harmonetics hospital, finds that shock therapy and psychosurgery are being freely performed, and even submits to violent sex with gorgeous Josiah in order to further the investigation. And when the other investigators discover that a rich old lady is being held in the hospital against her will (with her thieving son-in-law's cooperation), they all--plus two octogenarian cuties--join together in a plan to rescue the old gal, even after three of the investigators are killed, wounded, or captured. Finally, also, vengeful Jade (""Josiah, you monster. . ."") makes sure that evil Josiah (""He's the Tiberius or Caligula of twentieth-century America"") gets what he deserves--some of his own psychosurgery. . . . Heldman works terribly hard at supplying specifics to beef up the credibility here--Josiah's speeches, Harmonetics programs, newspaper articles, rituals, etc.--but they merely add tedious bulk to what should have been, at most, a frankly derivative bit of fluttery modern-gothic suspense. As it is--with clich‚ dialogue (""I've got it! It's crazy but it will work"") and sluggish plotting--it's a thin, familiar scenario swamped in scatterbrained detail.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1979
Publisher: Crown