IRON LADY by Stephen Forest


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An assassination tale that, when it isn’t moping about failed marriages, grapples with the gender paradox that turns nurturing women into vicious killers. After a bomb fails to blow up Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, represented by a Scripture-spouting Irish priest and his dying-millionaire buddy, hire the world’s best assassin, a mysterious character known only as the Gorgon. Responsible for the kind of comically fiendish deaths that might have played well on the old Avengers TV show, this notorious killer is actually a fabulously wealthy, cross-dressing, bisexual female named Kristain Somberg, who lives in a book-lined Swiss castle and has nightly orgies with a gang of psycho-sexpots, accompanied by Prokofiev piano concertos. After studying her prey, Somberg concludes that Thatcher loves children and sweets. Baking a poisoned cake is easy—but where will she find the innocent child who—ll offer Thatcher a deadly slice? Somberg flies to Chicago in her private jet, the Pequod, and snatches six-year-old Danny, son of widowed globe-trotting ad photographer Jessica Moore. Rescued from despair by a set of Beethoven symphonies given to her by Danny’s legless full-time care-giver, Pit Martin, Jessica vows to find the boy and has the great luck in London of meeting Commander Trent Stanford, a dashing, conveniently divorced Scotland Yard special agent assigned to thwart IRA assassinations. Newcomer Forest compares their burgeoning romance with the perverse passions Somberg has for her male secretary, a narcissistic Hawaiian named Kim Lee whom she’s transforming into a woman. Add to this some complications concerning an IRA mole in Thatcher’s organization. Will Maggie take her cake? Will a brainwashed Danny prefer the big toys and violent thrills he gets with his “new” mother to the middle-class monotony of life with Jessica? Archly, if not absurdly, implausible, with an excess of cumbersome dialogue and tedious allusions to Melville, Nietzsche, and contemporary clothing designers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20466-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999