CODE Z by Joel Swerdlow


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An absurd Washington, D.C., premise--in times of crisis, the President can invoke ""Code Z"" and transfer all authority to a single super-CIA agent--but it's developed with great brio, kaleidoscopic detail, and just a pucker of tongue-in-cheek. The crisis: a panicky terrorist has been shot at Dulles Airport, and found in his pocket are three plane tickets and three baggage checks; obviously, he has planted bombs on three planes which by now are in the air! ""Code Z"" agent Dan Horgan goes into immediate action--giving orders to the infuriated Secretary of State; commanding a battery of telephones; summoning up multi-computer data in order to figure out the terrorist's identity and motives; devising bail-out plans for each of the planes; and interrogating a mysterious woman who was seized at the airport. Meanwhile, the ""Commission"" behind the terrorist (not the PLO this time, but a U.S. arms-sales conglomerate that wants to keep international relations as hostile as possible) arranges to have Horgan's headquarters blown up; he survives, but in the confusion he's taken hostage by the mysterious woman--who is in fact an Israeli agent. ""This was James Bond stuff,"" thinks Horgan as he escapes from the Israelis and makes contact with the White House in time to save the last of the planes. (Understandably, however, the ""Code Z"" procedure is henceforth abandoned.) And lames Bond stuff it certainly is--teeming with code names, clever assassinations, and such--but Swerdlow's hectic pace allows for enough surprises and offbeat moments to keep this farfetched, oddly goodnatured entertainment from ever seeming as ridiculous as it surely is.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1978
Publisher: Putnam