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Farfetched, convoluted, but breezy and sharp-humored conspiracy doings--as CBS anchorman John Harland investigates outbreaks of energy-oriented terrorist violence (a coal train exploded, 14 scientists murdered, big-city blackouts) while his newswoman roommate Molly Rice (they've been the cover couple in People) investigates secret agreements among the Big Corporations. Could there be a connection between their separate sleuthings? And could it all link up also with Harland's current interview/profile subject--Rockefeller-like tycoon Martin Vandellen, who has finally given up Presidential ambitions to devote himself to a research think-tank? All these strands are threads of the same Big-Business conspiracy, of course; and one of the flaws in this debut thriller is that the mastermind culprit (""Vandellen and the Fortune Five Hundred want to foreclose on the government"") is transparent right from the start. But along the way to a nuclear-danger finale, Millar displays some talents that may serve him better in less elaborate books ahead: Harland has a nice way with repartee, about the TV biz and about himself (""If I tried to wear something with stripes I'd look like a contour map of Tibet""); the violent action often flies by with zippy horror; and there's an effectively creepy subplot about a government unit that tries to cover up those disturbing terrorist acts--by slaughtering all concerned, including innocent bystanders. Millar is best here when not trying to be taken seriously (when sassy, Cessna-flying Molly is killed by the bad guys, the sentimentality falls very flat), so suspense fans who demand emotional involvement and gritty conviction should look elsewhere. But: a serviceable, promising entry in the slightly-wild-and-satiric thriller category.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1979
Publisher: Dial