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Not Crisp's best effort (see The Gotland Deal, 1976, or The Brink, 1982), but nonetheless a well-paced, suspenseful thriller about an smuggler looking for the man who tried to kill him. Stephen Haden of Zurich is indeed a smuggler, but an unusual one--he makes it his highly profitable, highly risky business to sneak people away from East Germany. When he's shot and nearly killed in his mansion by a professional assassin (a kind of killer yuppie), what he has to do first is decide which of his enemies set the dogs on him. The East Germans, who have put a price on his head? His own organization? The British or the Americans, who may wish to place one of their own men in Haden's position, and use the smuggling business for spying purposes? Haden recovers and takes off on a search all over Europe--which for a while has the cunning and flavor of The Day of the Jackal (from which all blessings flow). Unfortunately, though, the plot becomes bogged down with conspiracies and counter-conspiracies and a rather unnecessary subplot dealing with Haden's father's own intelligence activities during WW Il. In the end--after Haden is used by the British and Americans to smuggle out a highly placed East German official (although it turns out that the East Germans are really using the Yanks and the Brits)--we find that Haden had indeed been set up by his own people, though he evens the score in a bloody denouement. Despite the unnecessarily complicated plot, then, a better-than-average suspense novel with strong Berlin color, plenty of action, and a good, surly, steely-eyed pro-tagonist.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking