Mystery novelist and journalist Hays (Murder in the Latin Quarter, not reviewed) pens a broad, labored farce about ethanol-fueled English instructors, hand-holding Arabs and spooks around every corner in post–Desert Storm Kuwait. Quiet American Ed Duffy steps off the plane hoping to pay off all his debts back home with his new job as English teacher to the Kuwaiti Air Force. Within a matter of hours, after feeling the heat, being subjected to maniacal local drivers, and getting a good look at his coworkers, he’s ready to catch the next plane out. An immediate promotion and a romantic supermarket encounter with a US Embassy lovely, however, lead Duffy to decide he can handle the craziness for a while. Cool in a crisis, he’s soon being viewed as a man who can get things done by the Kuwaiti brass, his fellow instructors, and an alcoholic Russian diplomat despondent about his wayward daughter. Even Duffy’s paranoid roommate Kirby offers confidences about some story he’s uncovered concerning the bombing of a chemical-weapons facility in Kuwait during the war—just before he himself disappears. When Kirby later turns up murdered, Duffy really gets in over his head; he too is in someone’s gun-sight, but after a wild ride through a minefield and assorted other adventures, he comes out standing tall.
Mildly diverting at times, sophomoric and stultifyingly clichéd at others.