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When it becomes obvious to the CIA that someone has been systematically eliminating their elite corps of super-agents (""Unicorns""), aging troubleshooter Morton Singer is brought in to spot the culprit and protect the seven Unicorns who still survive. Is the killer maybe one of the Unicorns? Or even a CIA biggie? Morton digs in, but apparently he doesn't do a very good job: while he spends his time writing up fatuous psycho-biographies of the seven Unicorns, several more of them die, and one, harsh and ugly Emily Rhinehauer, disappears. (She's been abducted into a Paris madhouse.) Finally, Morton comes up with a supposedly brilliant scheme--using one of the agents as a Judas goat to bait the assassin--but it doesn't seem very brilliant; nor does he sound like a top White House troubleshooter when he tells the President about the missing Emily: ""She could conceivably be using the Agatha Christie ploy from Ten Little Indians."" But if Morton is a hopelessly unconvincing mastermind, there's an even bigger problem here: since the victims are all bland but ruthless killers (the author's angle is clearly anti-CIA), you don't much care about them being killed, even when two of them fall in love. So, without a sympathetic or believable hero in sight, Bobker's first novel must rely on its plotting--which is first plodding and then convoluted, with clots of explanation in the home stretch. Allusions to assorted CIA scandals (the LSD experiments, Martin L. King's assassination) don't really help, and only the most ingenuous or patient spy fans will be grateful for the okay action sequences and the surprisingly inoffensive overall effect.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow