BREAK POINT by Ilie Nastase


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Tennis master ""Nasty"" Nastase's glittery, glitzy first novel is a competently served thriller of the courts but no unreturnable smash. The story follows tennis ace Pantakoras Belynkas (known variously as Koras or Panties and even King Koras, the Samson of the Courts) and his big money attempt to make the Grand Slam. Assembled against him are some giant talents, including Terry Laville. Koras, in fact, has just had a fist fight with the quirky Laville, after Laville's wife sought his protection when jealous Laville was beating her up. Now when he wants to beat Koras on the courts, it's personal and he fills with fury before each match. Meanwhile, big gambling money-men from the Mafia are trying to move into international tennis and fix the games. For example, Sally (for Salvatore) Vicenti eventually has $32 million spread around by the time of the final play-off at Flushing Meadow. Sally makes very definite offers to Koras and Laville and others, trying to arrange fate to suit his mob's convenience. Koras is deeply in debt but wants to keep his hands clean. Even so, when Armando Reyes, a very strong player, drops dead on the court at the French Open, from an overdose (of aphrodisiacs from the night before?), murder is clearly part of someone's agenda toward winning the big take. Another death follows at Wimbledon. However, aging Koras (now 34) is three crowns up and heading for the Grand Slam by also winning in the US Open, his last shot at immortality, and is determined to win despite the mob or his unhinged major opponent, Laville. Plenty of consumer goods and high life, with nasty repartee between the tennis stars as the novel's best moments. Otherwise, smartly clichÉd.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's