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DEATH OF A PATRIOT by R. E. Harrington Kirkus Star



Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Putnam

Harrington's newest suspense treat (his last was the dandy Quintain, 1977) plays upon the dog-eat-dog ruthlessness of the CIA--and in case you might miss the point, the hero/victim is named. . . Thomas Hobbes. Thomas is a wishy-washy, neurotic CIA file clerk with dreams of being a real live operations agent (like his late father), and he finally gets his chance--when the CIA notices his uncanny resemblance to George Gordon, a double agent who (just before his death) was about to slip some important info to the Russians. So Thomas is trained and made up to look and sound and act like Gordon; he'll keep Gordon's appointment with the Russians and deliver over a microdot containing phony information (which has been designed by the hawkish CIA chief to help disrupt d‚tente). There's certainly nothing the slightest bit original in this basic scenario, but Thomas is a surprisingly engaging nerd whom you'll cheer for as he gathers courage from page to page. And Harrington gives the plot just enough sly tugs and tweaks: Thomas' slow-to-grow romance with a CIA lawyer; their comic, daring scheme--in collaboration with a group of scrappy senior citizens--to free an elderly pal of Thomas' from unwarranted commitment to a CIA mental hospital; and the sudden, violent appearance of the real Gordon (who's not dead after all) to provide, the requisite last-minute tension. In the final showdowns with the Russians and the beastly CIA chief, Thomas behaves with a little too much newly-acquired bravado; but up till then he's a believably reluctant hero--and this is a quick, tidy tale that smoothly mixes quirky charm and quietly nasty suspense.