SPEARHEAD by Peter Driscoll


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In this grandly entertaining novel of South African intrigue, Driscoll returns to the form that made The Wilby Conspiracy a best-seller in 1972. What sets this thriller apart from Driscoll's most recent work (Heritage, 1982; Pangolin, 1979) is its compelling premise. The news that Lincoln Kumalo, a charismatic black African leader imprisoned for 25 years, has cancer gives his jailers an idea of how to deal with the problem of Kumalo once and for all: they'll announce plans to release him, then send him to Johannesburg for an appointment at Dr. Louis Rose's clinic, where a carefully planned accident will await him. But the plan is overheard by a trusty who succeeds in getting out a hint of what's afoot to Kumalo's daughter and lawyer--with the result that three chiefs of the People's Congress enlist Major Patrick Marriner, an Irish soldier of fortune, to rescue Kumalo once he's at Rose's clinic. Recruiting an unlikely team that includes a squad of army dissidents, a black militant named Alex Duma, and Dr. Rose's lovely daughter Judith, Martinet races against time--and against hints that the government has gotten wind of his mission and intends to stop it. . .and that the People's Congress may not be unanimous in welcoming Kumalo's release. Everything here is perfectly judged: the characters have just as much depth and individuality as the plot requires, and Driscoll--without ever moralizing--offers political observations that keep the audience's hearts in the right place. Readers looking for a rousing South African melodrama could hardly do better.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Publisher: Little, Brown