MOSCOW METAL by Rick Boyer


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Boyer's adventures for ""Doc"" Charlie Adams (The Daisy Ducks, etc.) work hard at moving beyond conventional mystery plots, and this new one is no exception: the mild-mannered oral surgeon from Concord, Mass., now manages to get caught up in an action-espionage tangle--far-fetched but oddly cozy and local--featuring a secret super-weapon and FBI/CIA/KGB agents. The Buchanesque doings begin when Doc's pet cat dies in agony, having been shot (it turns out) by a stray bullet of ""Moscow metal"": a radioactive thallium bullet used exclusively by KGB hit-men! Could this be connected to the Boyers' new neighbor, ÉmigrÉ scientist Emil Haszmanay, who has disappeared? It sure could: Doc is soon helping pathetic fugitive Emil, who confesses to being a double-agent--leaking secrets (from his work at a nearby defense lab) to the KGB, but giving primary loyalty to the CIA. Worse yet, while being stalked by KGB assassins, Emil is also the target of a secret mole within the FBI/CIA system. And, worst of all, unless the mole can be unmasked, the new US super-defense computer will probably be hijacked! Doc--sometimes in league with the cops, sometimes on his nervy own--does his best to protect Emil (who is doomed); he suspiciously monitors the behavior of the several US agents who get involved (which one's the mole?); he plays a key role in the action/finale--the attempted railway hijacking. And throughout, thanks to textured characterization, dry humor, and subdued background details, Boyer keeps this early-Hitchcock plot from becoming silly or cartoonish: not for everyone, perhaps, but an appealing blend of Yankee charm and gritty derring-do nonetheless.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1987
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin