A first novel of international intrigue overstuffed with incident but short on pacing and logic. Canadian oil-rig diver Derek Stone is almost killed in the opening chapter by bad air 165 feet down; by the end of the chapter, his wife, of the Italian Cultural Mission to Libya, has been killed by sabotage aboard his rig. It's a sign of things to come that these two incidents have nothing to do with each other--for Derek, after vowing revenge on the saboteurs' leader, the arms merchant Carlo Spugna, spends the next 300 pages caroming from one inconsequential danger to the next. Advised by a shadowy network of agents to make contact with Gene Harrell, he washes up after a shipwreck to find Harrell dead beside him, takes over his identity, and is rescued by Donata Spugna, Carlo's niece. After Derek has spent several days in an Italian jail, escaped in Donata's company, fortuitously joined a salvage expedition in search of a diver, braved underwater attack, capture, and torture by Spugna's men in Malta, and escaped again with the double-agent Billy Wayne Henderson, who takes him to Tunisia--well, then things get really exciting, with Donata held hostage by agents who may swap her for a mysterious microprocessor the Americans are trying to keep from the Russians' hands--or are they?--and myriad supporting characters switching sides and getting killed before the inevitable showdown with Carlo Spugna and the reunion with Donata. These episodes are linked, or separated, by Derek's incapacitating headaches and fainting spells. Terpening, unfortunately, seems unable to solve most of the mysteries he creates--or to provide any but the most perfunctory rationale for Derek's adventures.