CROSSFIRE by J.C. Pollock


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The author of Mission M.I.A. (1982) and Centrifuge (1984) has created an action-oriented espionage novel that serves as a vehicle for simplistic and clumsily articulated pro-American, anti-Soviet sentiments. A Soviet scientist, who has spied for the United States for years, attempts to defect by going into hiding in Czechoslovakia, hoping the CIA will help him escape from there to the West. The CIA obliges, largely because he has a briefs: use containing documents that can give away the agency's most important project. The CIA arranges for a team of six Green Berets to get him out--an arrangement that runs counter to the judgment of the military people involved, but in which they participate as ordered. Things go badly, however: The briefcase has found its way into the hands of a Czech Olympic skating star, and the mission fails as the Green Beret who finds her learns that she will turn it over only to the one American she trusts, a private citizen with whom she fell in love years before. The plot, already a little far-fetched, goes a lot farther as the CIA overlooks relatively simple answers to its problem and adopts the most complicated, and most risky, solution possible. Characterization is unconvincing: Americans, despite their exceptional military prowess, are decent and honorable, Soviets are monstrous, reveling in the torture of dissidents, and Czechs emerge either as honorable dissidents or as tainted (due to their association with the Soviets) but still not inherently evil, worthy adversaries. Although Pollock can write compelling action scenes, his writing style is also problematical. He equips his characters with the very latest weapons and makes them expert in advanced techniques including nuclear ones, all of which require some technical explanation. But Pollock explains in such detail, and with such obvious love of jargon, that stretches of the novel read more like a technical manual. Even if it can generate some excitement, Cross fire has too many faults to work. A misfire.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Crown