Through its first haft, Newsdeath offers a pleasingly high-class thriller with some sharp-edged characterizations. Then--a few too many bodies fall, and the plot takes on a dispiritingly hollow sound. The terrorist gimmick: PUMA (People's Urban Media Army) is bent on taking over the BBC and broadcasting its own version of the decline of the West through the dupedom of the media. The first stage of their scheme involves blowing up a car on a busy street. On the scene is Huckleston (""Huckle""), a journalist for an evening paper, who is mildly wounded by the blast and who also spots the beautiful blond terrorist bombplanter. Huckle is a philanderer, separated from his wife and children. He's befriended by Kirsten, a lover he doesn't really love. And he has a greatly attractive black friend in a hotshot fellow reporter with whom he's sharing the PUMA assignment. When Huckle gets too close to the heart of the mystery, he's kidnapped by the gang, held hostage, and used as a mouthpiece as the killers at last assault the broadcasting station, taking over a studio. The blond terrorista is soon revealed as the stooge of an even larger conspiracy that really holds PUMA in contempt, and all eventually ends in a bloodbath. Connolly displays all the Londoner crisp-and-tart gifts of suspense, but he hasn't hatched the sort of plausible plot that would show them off rippingly.