FATAL BEAUTY by John Godey


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When gorgeous Juno Sultan, 44, hears that her son Michael has been kidnapped--along with US tycoon Joe Bering--by terrorists in northern Italy, she is determined to see him no-matter-what. So Juno accepts a secret invitation from the terrorists (they want the PR-value of a merciful, pro-motherhood act of compassion); she sneaks over to Rome in disguise, ready to follow directions from a series of terrorist contacts; she even keeps her trip a secret from dear husband Jerry, recovering from a heart-attack in the hospital. Meanwhile, however, Juno is being followed by an array of ruthless agents--who (for various half-convincing reasons) are out to find the kidnap hideout: a CIA psychopath must rescue, or kill, CIA-connected Joe Bering (who Knows Too Much); KGB agents are out to get Bering for the same reason; and a fascist fanatic wants to kill Juno, thus ruining the leftwing terrorists' PR coup. There are lots of foul-ups, then, in Juno's attempt to reach Michael--who, unbeknownst to her, is actually a conspirator in the kidnap, motivated by mad passion for terrorist Adriana. The terrorists decide to flee to another hideout, with Michael (who has seen the light) becoming a full-fledged kidnap-ee, sentenced to death along with Bering. So Juno now turns sleuth, teaming up with the Italian cops to track down the new terrorist hideout; she's promptly kidnapped herself. And in the hectic finale the cops (with wily CIA backup) invade the terrorists' Venice hideout; the terrorists, with prisoners, escape by boat; and there's lots of hand-to-hand combat on a Lido beach--involving Juno, Michael, the CIA psycho, and even husband Jerry--before Juno goes home, nobly restraining her simmering passion for an Italian cop. Godey (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three) tries to freshen up this largely routine kidnap/ chase scenario by giving heavy emphasis to heroic Jewish mother Juno; unfortunately, however, despite a strained dollop of Yiddish here and there, she remains an artificial character throughout--while wimpy son Michael is hardly worth all her effort. Still, though a disappointingly humdrum follow-up to Godey's inventive Nella (1981): sturdy terrorist-hunt suspense--filled out with Italian scenery, CIA horridness (the usual), and some maternal histrionics.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1984
Publisher: Atheneum