A first novel in which an American journalist--though fighting for professional detachment--is sucked into the heart of the savage efforts to subvert America's secret Star Wars system. A mysterious call from a senator chum calls him away just as Washington Post reporter Robert ""Malibu"" Hamilton is beginning to enjoy the American ambassador's reception in Rome. Detaching himself from beautiful, brainy film-star Diana Sillito, Hamilton zips up to his friend's hotel room to see the politician standing over a couple of corpses. One of the dead men was a terrorist, the other a German politician who, like the senator, had been involved in the current disarmament talks. Hamilton scoots out before the police are called, but later learns that yet another assassin has struck, torturing the senator to death before he could calls the cops. These messy deaths are the byproduct of a search to find the mastermind of the satellite defense system that the Americans have sneaked into place but have not yet activated. A phone call from the dead German's widow then routes Hamilton to sunniest Spain--where he discovers his old nemesis, the snaky aide to a foolish old liberal senator, hobnobbing with some very rough Eastern Europeans. Hamilton's reportorial investigation merges with American efforts to stop the leak of the secret Star Wars deployment before the Soviets find out--a discovery that would apparently force the Russians into a pre-emptive strike. Excessive length, shallow characters, heavy-handed political preaching, and a plague of adjectives--all put unbearable strains on a perfectly serviceable thriller plot.