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It is 1982, and rival French and American fighter-bomber aircraft manufacturers are battling over the 2(apple)-billion-dollar Australian contract for 600 planes. French hopes are based on Henri Levitte's Super-Celeste, which his daughter's lover is about to test-fly in a demonstration for Australian politicians. But pilot Jean-Paul is murdered on the morning of the test flight as he is leaving a hotel where he has spent the night with a top prostitute (he's also married!). At first his death is ascribed to Algerian terrorists, but soon we find that Levitte's Euro-Aviat is in mortal combat with North-West Aerospace, the giant American firm, which will stop at no dirty trick to win the big contract. Nor will Euro-Aviatt. Yet both companies must shield their top executives from scandal, and so pay-offs, call-girls, and murders are arranged by employees who have enormous slush funds but who never admit even to their superiors that they are buying politicians (even heads of state) and arranging murders. The deftly devised story keeps you wondering right to the end which company is manipulating which calamity. Meanwhile, on the runway, the waiting beautiful blue Super-Celeste, a goddess of some kind ""attended by her priests,"" is ""pulling towards herself, with mystical powers, worshippers from all parts of the world for some special ceremony."" Drily done and ingeniously plotted.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's