BAROSSA by John Clive


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Another solid but routine action-melodrama from the author of The Last Liberator, somewhat enhanced by the Australian-desert setting. The initial plot hook: why have five Australian children been kidnapped over a period of years, apparently by the same villain? The latest child to be snatched is little Trudie Langbein. And investigating the case is newscaster Harry Brockway, an American expatriate now working for an Adelaide TV station (while yearning for the big story that will get him back to New York). Brockway tracks down Trudie's unwed mother Sharon (she lives in the German settlement of Barossa Valley), and love blooms. Meanwhile, however, we learn what has really been going on: Ernst Vaas, a Nazi nuclearphysicist/death-camp experimenter, is now--under a new name--director of Barossa's medical facilities. And he has kidnapped those children to test for radiation effects from an atomic warhead he is secretly testing in the desert. Also being tested is a rocket made by Nazi Bruno Heissler, a Peenemunde engineer who has designed a new fuel system. And behind all this hugger-mugger is Billy Redston, a British deserter who went over to the Chinese in Korea and has secretly set about matching Vaas' warhead with Heissler's rocket so as to produce the first ""clean"" fission missile--much desired by the Chinese. But now Vaas will not test little Trudie (because she's German) and has her returned to Sharon. This alerts Brockway, and, aided by a desert prospector with two camels, he tracks Redston to his testing grounds, rescues both Sharon (kidnapped by Redston) and Heissler--who has fiddled with the rocket so that it will malfunction and go floppo, giving off zowie rads destroying everyone. . . . Engagingly unusual Australian backgrounds draped over a tinfoil mad-nuclear-scientists plot.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte