THE PARK IS MINE by Stephen Peters


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Crazed Vietnam veteran takes over Central Park with guerrilla-war tactics--in an all-action melodrama that's strong on weaponry and gore, weak on character or genuine, plausible suspense. Peters' anti-hero here is war-shattered vet Harris, who sees the ""dark, slit-eyed faces"" of the enemy all around him in N.Y. and thinks he's still fighting in Asia. (The psychology is inconsistent and unconvincing throughout.) So Harris has gradually buried weapons and supplies around Central Park, concealing ""more than a ton of equipment, ammunition and tools"" and readying himself for the big assault: on a summer night he pops amphetamines, sets mines and bamboo booby traps around the park, fires smoke bombs, rings the park with ""concertina"" barbed wire, blows up the park's police station, and announces by phone that ""Central Park is mine and mine alone."" Initial police efforts to enter and search the park are disastrous: Harris retaliates with sniper fire, grenades, rocket launchers, and claymore mines. The authorities are sure they're dealing with a terrorist band; only Deputy Mayor David Dix, who was in Vietnam, believes that this is a disturbed solo guerrilla at work, someone who might be talked into surrendering. And meanwhile a female news-film free-lancer named Weaver (gorgeous, fearless, blasÉ about violence) decides to enter the now-deserted park and do some filming: Harris captures her, forces her to assist him, and she overcomes her own repressions to seduce him (""It's okay. . . it's okay to touch somebody""). Finally, however, despite Dix's protests and Weaver's attempts to get Harris to give up, the powers-that-be decide to fight Harris on his own terms: legendary Vietnamese guerrilla Tran Chau Dinh is brought in to go one-on-one with Harris in a final orgy of violence. Admittedly, first-novelist Peters makes a few stabs at character development (Weaver becomes less media-ruthless, Dix quits his hypocrisy-heavy job); and the bloodthirsty TV-newsfilm world, though overdone, is reasonably authentic. But basically this is bullets, bombs, and bodies all the way--chiefly for the ordnance-happy fans of one-dimensional war novels and ""merc"" fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday