WATERHOLE by Julian Savarin


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Mysterious terrorists hijack an airplane--but they make no ransom demands or political statements. Instead, they drug the plane's first-class passengers and whisk them off to an isolated desert complex in Australia--where the secret terrorist mastermind is soon revealed to be Sir Philip Harding, nobleman/tycoon, who has bizarre revenge-motives (as do many members of his polyglot guerrilla band). Most of the captives are rich and/or important people--including rich New Yorkers, a cartoonish Southern racist, an African official, and a South African secret-policeman. But also among them, by chance, is black photographer Gallagher--an ex-British Intelligence agent (though nobody knows about this secret, tortured past). After cruelly killing several captives, then, the terrorists recruit Gallagher to their side--mostly because top guerrilla Marika lusts after him madly. He pretends to go along, has super sex with Marika, even joins in a killing. But then Gallagher, from his new insider's position, leads the captives in a break from their prison (accomplished with ludicrous ease)--after which this pedestrian thriller becomes a predictable across-the-desert trek/chase/ordeal: the guerrillas pursue; the good guys ambush them; there are problems with leaking petrol tanks, snakes, water, maps. And eventually, after Sir Philip has realized that Gallagher is a super-spy, there are escalating hostilities (helicopter attacks, ""blookers"")--before rescue and True Love for Gallagher, who's been murkily haunted by assorted guilty memories throughout. Padded out with the stereotyped past-histories of the terrorists and the captives: busy, farfetched, mechanical action--melodrama-from the author of three feeble science-fiction novels.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's