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A creepy tycoon and a mad scientist conspire to get a President elected via subliminal advertising--but their vast plot is foiled by the heroic adman whom they try to use for a dupe in the scheme. Jordan's never-credible-for-a-second hero is Rick Craig, a onetime National Book Award winner (!) now devoted to making his Atlanta ad agency the ""hottest shop"" in the South. But he's less than enthusiastic when approached to take on the massive campaign for N.Y.'s Phoenix Press--a division of Mac Hunter's Miramar Corporation. And indeed the whole campaign is a secret setup: Hunter and his fellow conspirators plan to take control of Rick's agency and fill the Phoenix Press ads with fraction-of-a-second subliminal sexual images that will make dull Congressman Anthony Hapworth an irresistible candidate. Rick resists, but his partners succumb (one greedy, the other blackmailed with sex photos by Hunter's sadistic sidekick); so Rick and old-chum photographer Dan are soon sleuthing about, trying to figure out what's really going on. Clues do eventually surface--an incriminating tape, a book by mad psycho-scientist Prescott (Rick's ex-father-in-law, who hates him)--and while Dan goes dangerously undercover in Miramar's California office, Rick rescues various innocent bystanders from Prescott's mind-erasing clutches (at an island clinic) and wonders which of his two lady loves (agency aide Laura, headhunter Suzanne) is the chief conspirator known as ""Minerva."" ClichÉ after clichÉ--including final chapters wherein most of the characters take turns holding a gun on each other and making confessions, explanations, or speeches. But though it's occasionally embarrassing (especially when hero Rick waxes self-analytical, literally to the tune of ""What Kind of Fool Am I?"") and almost always corny and derivative, this first novel is fairly easy-reading conspiracy nonsense, with at least the germ of a genuinely fearsome premise.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1980
Publisher: New American Library