DEATH BEAM by Robert Moss


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Moss co-authored The Spike (1980), a gripping, polemical bestseller about Soviet ""disinformation"" schemes, and this first solo novel has a similar thrust. This time, however, the impact is slighter--largely because, unlike those in The Spike, the Soviet schemes here are imaginary future ones. Brezhnev has died, you see, and power-mad Marshal Safronov (a super-villain complete with scarred face and Captain Hook hand) has gone into apocalyptic action. He plans for a Palestinian terrorist to assassinate the US President--which will create the ideal confused climate for a Soviet ultimatum. The ultimatum? Well, Russia has completed Project Razrukha--a satellite death-beam that can irradiate its neutron horror over large areas, the perfect weapon to blackmail the West into virtual surrender to Soviet domination. (The US abandoned its own death-beam and anti-death-beam plans years ago--thanks to ""disinformation"" placed by Soviet moles in the CIA.) So the situation is dire, and the only agents who can handle it are suave British Charles Canning and veteran CIA man Dick Hammond--who belong to a renegade secret intelligence club called ""The Lost Band."" And, when not gourmandizing or bedding assorted women (including Charles' artist ex-wife and a cafe chanteuse from New Orleans), this fearless duo scurries around the world, exploding Safronov's master plan and saving us from war (the death-beam is sabotaged, the Prez is rescued). Unfortunately, while The Spike had a dense, gritty realism that transcended derring-do, Moss has served up this quasi-sequel in the most standard James Bond manner--kiss-kiss, bang-bang, invincible heroes, and a leap-frogging focus (though the Kremlin gets the most consistent attention). But the Russia-watching remains knowledgeable--with lectures on international terrorism and Soviet strategy--and readers with a taste for Satanic Soviet scenarios will probably enjoy this less convincing, less engrossing follow-up.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Crown