CITY OF LIGHT by Michael Doane


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Shifting his restless intercontinental gaze from the American desert of Sir Miles to Roadside Business (1990) to Europe and Africa, Doane finds more fertile ground in this clark, twisting tale of mayhem and torture involving a Paris-based human-rights organization. Africa looms large in the saga, a mysterious, distant land, as monitor Thomas Zane--son of a bomb-throwing 60's radical confined to a mental hospital--receives a transmission in Paris from one of his undercover ""rakers"" that his friend, another informant code-named Eleven, has died. The message sets in motion a desperate chain of events; Zane carries the word to Eleven's lover, also the wife of a prominent African poet-turned-ardent-revolutionary, only to have her die within minutes of seeing him. Fired from his job for having supposedly sold out to those who kill, he is stalked on the streets and through his computer links, and has to vanish into the Parisian demimonde in order to survive. Zane slowly realizes that an insidious torturer tracked by Eleven for years from Southeast Asia across Africa, who uses a combination of mind-bending drugs to extract information fully--leaving victims euphoric, memory-impaired, and with a crown of surgical scars--is at work in Mall, and that he is also responsible for everything happening to Zane in France. Discovering that Eleven is not dead but hiding in a Mali village of blind people, he goes to him, with the torturer at his heels; a confrontation between them, which includes the poet, ensues--and Zane has to face the limits of his nonviolent convictions. More compelling than its predecessor and much closer to a mainstream thriller. The suspense fades in the end, but even so this is a taut, tantalizing yarn in which high-tech hanky-panky, the politics of African liberation, and human-rights concerns coalesce.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf