HAMBRO'S ITCH by Howard & Jack Wassermann Robens


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This story seems to be about an impending disaster that will wipe out about two billion undernourished folks and leave the rest of us with a half-way decent diet in the years ahead--but the disaster never happens, and the story remains not just earthbound but corpse-bound. A beautiful young cellist gives a concert in Vancouver. She's expected to catch a plane to Hawaii that night for her next concert. But strangely she puts on old clothes, leaves the auditorium, goes down to a low-class section of town, picks up a silver-haired sailor and takes him to bed in a hotel room--where she dies apparently in orgasm, or very quickly afterward. A great deal of the novel is about the autopsy on her corpse: no cause of death can be found. At last her unidentified body is located by her fiancÉ, a big-city investigative reporter, who gradually finds himself involved in mysterious circumstances. So is the reader, who often wonders where the novel is going. The very piecemeal revelations accumulate into a picture of the White Revolution--a plan to grow grain in the Arctic--and of a plague about to be unleashed upon the protein-poor nations (because the White Revolution will not produce enough protein for everyone, making some depopulation necessary). As for the title, the killer plague virus--with which the cellist was supposed to infect billions of people--was discovered by a 15-year-old genius named Hambro. Some nice ghoulish moments, and certainly timely--but too poorly put together to conceal its absurdity.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday