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A ripping good spy yarn that has everything: beautiful Tahiti and other lovely atolls, murder, a sleek sailing yacht rendezvousing in midocean with a nuclear submarine, a burning international issue right off the front page, high scientific technology and low international politics, a difficult and complicated sabotage mission and, for comic relief, some bumbling spies. And the tale is only enhanced by being true. It's the story of the bombing and sinking in New Zealand in July, 1985, of the Greenpeace environmental group's flagship Rainbow Warrior. The bomb killed Fernando Pereira, a Dutch photographer. His death was the spies' first bumble. They had intended to kill only the ship, not any of her crew. Warrior had been scheduled to lead a flotilla of yachts to a mid-Pacific atoll in peaceful protest against nuclear bomb tests being conducted there by the French. The sinking and murder brought headlines around the world and created an international uproar. In short order, it ended the political career of France's defense minister and came close to toppling the Mitterand government. The New Zealand police conducted an international spy hunt in several countries and Tahiti. Though the spies had tried to lay a false trail so the blame would fall on the British, it was quickly apparent that the spies were French. But were they operating as free-lancers or under government orders? Five of the group escaped New Zealand, but two were caught, a man and woman posing as a honeymooning Swiss couple. Under intense interrogation, they steadfastly remained silent, refusing even to divulge their real names. Then, as required by law, the police allowed them one phone call. And the hardily silent spies dialed the French secret service headquarters in Paris--with the police listening in and rapidly tracing the number. If that bumble had appeared in an espionage novel, readers would have jeered. Dyson has produced a well-written, first-class book. In print less than six months after some of the events it covers, it is head and shoulders above the usual ""instant book.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1986
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles