THE MANNA ENZYME by Richard Hoyt


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What would happen if somebody secretly discovered an enzyme that made all plant-life digestible by human being--meaning the end of world starvation? Well, in Hoyt's agreeably silly, tongue-in-cheek spy tangle, the ensuing action would be exceedingly nasty. First to hear of the secret is none other than Fidel Castro, who's been yearning for an excuse to shave his beard and get out of those boring fatigues (""It would have to be something that required him to change clothes""); so Fidel shaves, ogles hookers in N.Y., and personally leads a Cuban mini-commando group to the Oregon mountains, where enzyme scientist Bernard Goldman is hiding. But while Castro wants the enzyme (he'll clinch the role of Third World super-hero), unlikely CIA chief Anthony Laurence--a young guy whose favorite word is ""fun""--hears about the enzyme and, after advice from an economist (the enzyme would cause world chaos!), he decides to eliminate Goldman and the enzyme; furthermore, Soviet super-spy Karpov agrees, so he (and a sexy female UK agent too) team up with Laurence and Oregon sportswriter Eddie Perini, heading for Oregon to bump Goldman off. And, meanwhile, Laurence's top aide has (for $20 million) tipped off the food industry about the enzyme--and the food-tycoons have therefore dispatched a trio of super-hit-men (one of whom is a transvestite!) to kill Goldman. So, as you probably have already guessed, all these folks will wind up crossing paths in Oregon--first at a sleazy disco (""Fidel Castro was sitting across from them in Krakatoa Kate's!""), then in a bloody showdown as they all go after Goldman in canoes. Yes, as the US President (a super-foul dude here) notes at one point, ""My God, it was like the fucking Marx Brothers. . . . Shit, what next?"" But Hoyt, author of the jaunty John Denson mystery series, gets some nice black-comic effects (with much Max-Apple-ish amusement from that wild-and-crazy-guy Fidel); and those partial to slightly raunchy spy-spoofery will find this quick, painless fun.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow